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)