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PUPPY IN MY HEAD by Elise Gravel


A Book About Mindfulness

by Elise Gravel ; illustrated by Elise Gravel

Pub Date: Jan. 5th, 2021
ISBN: 978-0-06-303767-0
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Ollie is only a puppy, and his barefooted child is having trouble soothing and training him.

Ollie can get overly excited or very anxious—which wouldn’t be such a problem if he wasn’t constantly barking inside his person’s head! He yaps for no reason and wants to run and jump when he should be calm and quiet. What happens when the puppy controls the child and not the other way around? “AWOOO!” The narrator, who has brown skin and dark brown hair, mirrors the frantic antics of the puppy until the application of mindfulness techniques helps mellow out the two friends. Gravel uses the analogy of an exuberant puppy to help young children get the upper hand on a stressed and anxious mind. The puppy analogy devolves at times to cutesy: “I love Ollie. He’s such a good puppy. He is my best friend.” Nevertheless, coping mechanisms are effectively introduced. The author demonstrates how the mind can be calmed by using breathing practices—the child calls their breath a “magical leash”—physical exercise, and focus. Gravel’s signature black-outlined, comics-style drawings and oversized, colorful text stand out against generous negative space. The golden, long-eared puppy’s expressive features (bugged eyes and lolling red tongue) and cavorting, stubby-legged body successfully convey kinetic energy overload. The subtitle’s a bit of a misnomer, as anxiety relief rather than mindfulness is the focus, but the advice is sound, buttressed by a brief afterword from a pediatrician. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-17.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Every child can benefit from these important strategies.

(Informational picture book. 4-8)