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A successful introduction to the concept of mindfulness for young children.

Several ethnically diverse children interact with a northern landscape, closely observing and imagining themselves as various flora and fauna.

Each spread depicts the children in relaxed or playful poses, accompanied by meditative, first-person tankas expressing various mindfulness sentiments appropriate to the illustration. Through the poems, the narrator’s relationship to the environment is analyzed: thoughts are observed and flow like “little fish. / They shine blue, green, red, yellow.” The narrator’s breath is “a river of peace.” Through the illustrations, the child’s relationship with nature is a refuge or a way of moderating harmful or disturbing thoughts and feelings—whatever is going on in nature, the constancy of selfhood shines through: “Sometimes I’m a cloud…a mountain or a stone…but I am always me.” Nature provides reassurance in times of trouble and allows disruptive moods and angry thoughts to be moderated and transformed into peaceful mindfulness. Through observing nature, we can learn to be in the moment: “Today is real. Here now, / this minute, the true wings.” Finnish artist Laitinen’s delicate, detailed pen-and-watercolor illustrations of children in nature are well-suited to the contemplative nature of the poems and will work well in the context of a yoga or meditation group for young children or as a gentle, reassuring bedtime story.

A successful introduction to the concept of mindfulness for young children. (Picture book/poetry. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62203-937-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sounds True

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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A sweet and quiet homage to friendship, nature, and the power of words and poetry.

A little girl enjoys writing poems and gets an unexpected surprise when she writes a poem and gives it to a tree, making “the world more splendid."

Sylvia marks the end of winter with a poem about springtime. After reading it to a squirrel, she ties it to a tree (“hoping that it didn’t count as littering”). When she passes the tree on her way to school the next day, she finds a surprise—another poem on the tree. “She never imagined the tree might write back.” Sylvia continues to write poems to the tree and waits to find the next poem. When she realizes a teasing classmate, Walt, is the author of the other poems, she is sad: “Had the tree she loved so much not given her a thing?” Not too unsurprisingly, the two poets become friends, harmoniously trading rhymes beneath the tree that has brought them together. Using precise, intelligent prose, Reynolds captures moments of a child’s innocence: “ ‘So what’s your name?’ Sylvia asked the tree. But the tree stood in silence. ‘Are you shy like me?’ The tree nodded in the breeze. Sylvia understood.” Maydani’s delicate, pencil-and-watercolor paintings, suffused with spring pastels, affectionately invest Sylvia (who has brown skin), Walt (who presents white), and even the tree with personality.

A sweet and quiet homage to friendship, nature, and the power of words and poetry. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-53912-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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A poem about the pandemic with vivid illustrations and a strong environmental message.

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During a period of quarantine, people discover new ways to live—and new lessons about how to care for the planet—in this debut picture book.

In this work’s poem, O’Meara describes lockdowns experienced by many across the world during the first days of the Covid-19 pandemic. Beginning with the title phrase, the author discusses quiet activities of solitude and togetherness as well as more boisterous ways of interacting. These times of being apart give people a new perspective, and when they reunite, “they grieved their losses, / and made new choices” to restore the planet. The spare verse allows the illustrations by Di Cristofaro and Pereda to take center stage. The colorful, slightly abstract cartoons depict a rainbow of people and pets, many of them living in apartments but some residing in larger, greener spaces. Images of nature healing show the author’s vision of hope for the future. While this was written in March and originally published as an online poem, the lack of an explicit mention of the reason behind the lockdowns (and the omission of the experiences of essential workers) could offer readers an opportunity to imagine a planetary healing beyond the pandemic that inspired the piece. The accessible prose and beautiful images make this a natural selection for young readers, but older ones may appreciate the work’s deeper meaning.

A poem about the pandemic with vivid illustrations and a strong environmental message.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73476-178-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tra Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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