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MIKEY DISCOVERS HIS SUPER POWER

A useful, relatable introduction to mindfulness for kids.

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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 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5255-3611-3

Page Count: 44

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Sept. 5, 2019

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A LITTLE LIFE

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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