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In this illustrated children’s book, an anxious boy gets help from a friend who teaches him mindfulness practice.

Fourth-graders Mikey, a white boy, and Nia, a black girl, are neighbors and best friends, but they have different approaches to life’s problems. Mikey is a worrier, always afraid something bad will happen, and this keeps him indoors and lonely. He distracts himself by playing on his electronic tablet, but he often gets so absorbed that he doesn’t hear his mother call him for dinner, which annoys her. Nia, on the other hand, loves to live in the moment: “She calls this ‘being mindful,’ and it is her superpower!” notes the third-person narrator. After noticing that Mikey is unhappy, she resolves to help him by teaching him about mindfulness and how to practice it himself. He agrees to give it a try, and Nia takes him through the process, step by step. He learns that he can handle his feelings, make better choices, and focus, and he’s more attentive to his mother, pleasing them both. Mikey resolves to practice his new “superpower” regularly, which makes him happier and keeps him out of trouble. A note to parents and teachers explains how to use the book with kids, offering more background, questions to consider, and examples of mindfulness practice. In her debut, Dolinar, a psychotherapist, explains in clear, simple language how readers can slow down and pay attention to the present. (The book doesn’t address the issue of kids with more serious attention-related issues, such as ADHD, but clinical studies have shown mindfulness training can be effective in such cases.) The author shows what to do when intrusive thoughts arise, as they will: “Always look and take notice of them, but don’t hang on to them for long.” Introducing the subject through a friend rather than a parent, teacher, or therapist is a nice touch that may help readers feel more comfortable with a new technique. Barinova’s (The Story of Emi, 2018, etc.) images are cartoonlike—simple lines, oversized heads—and include appealing details and a calming, peach-and-light-blue color palette.

A useful, relatable introduction to mindfulness for kids.

Pub Date: May 15th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-5255-3611-3
Page count: 44pp
Publisher: FriesenPress
Program: Kirkus Indie
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