In connecting yoga with its roots, this book stands out

READ REVIEW

YOGA STORYTIME

BREATHE, STRETCH, BE CALM

A straightforward introduction to yoga in a picture-book format.

In it, Spaniard Raventós tells readers that “many, many years ago in India, some men…decided that the simplest thing they could do was BREATHE” and invites readers to “sit down on the floor for a little while like they did.” Like other nonfiction picture books about yoga for children, this effort showcases child-friendly asanas (poses), such as tree, half-moon, cat, lion, and tortoise. But unlike similar titles, this book traces yoga’s beginnings to India and explains why and how asanas were developed: early practitioners needed to “train their bodies so they could stand still without complaining” and “train their thoughts” so that they could do “nothing more than breathing.” And, although the book’s protagonist is an unnamed blond, white boy, most spreads (by fellow Spaniard Girón) are of older Indian men and women—dhoti-wearing or sari-clad—performing the familiar asanas, a subtle representation of yoga’s ancient Eastern roots. Raventós’ prose is somewhat awkward and stilted, perhaps due to the (uncredited) translation, but Girón’s illustrations are calm and inviting. A reading guide provides further information about yogic breathing, and a pose glossary offers detailed instructions for the various asanas.

In connecting yoga with its roots, this book stands out . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4236-4935-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Gibbs Smith

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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The many enchanting elements of dance and story in The Sleeping Beauty ballet come alive for young children.

BALLET SCHOOL

Read! Practice! Perform!

Three girls (Amirah, Violet, and Sahani) and two boys (Joonwon and Alejandro) take ballet class. They clearly demonstrate warm-up moves, basic feet and arm positions executed at the barre, and center-floor movements including jumps. Their facial expressions vary from happy to fretful. When they have performed their “reverence,” or bows, they are ready to move on to a performance of The Sleeping Beauty, a popular story ballet danced to a beautiful score by Tchaikovsky. Violet’s mom, a former dancer, enters to tell the children the story, and they act out the various roles, from the elegant Lilac Fairy to the evil Carabosse. Each role involves steps that they previously learned and very expressive facial and body emoting. Bouder is a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet and writes with enthusiasm and knowledge. The uncluttered cartoon illustrations are lively and colorfully detailed, depicting a multiracial cast (as hinted at by the children’s names). That Violet and her ex-professional mom are white somewhat undermines the egalitarian message. While it may prove challenging for readers to actually try the steps on their own, especially the jumps, they should enjoy practicing. When readers play the score (not included but readily available) in the background, correct ballet movement or simply expressive individual movements can result in a very enjoyable staging.

The many enchanting elements of dance and story in The Sleeping Beauty ballet come alive for young children. (glossary) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-5128-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.

MY DAY WITH GONG GONG

Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Animals, action, and accurate information—packaged for kids. A winner.

YOGA ANIMALS

A WILD INTRODUCTION TO KID-FRIENDLY POSES

Uncluttered design and clear instructions mark this kid-friendly introduction to nine basic yoga poses.

Each double-page spread pairs National Geographic photos with a rhyming two-line verse, with action words set in display type. The high-quality photos are set within circles of bright contrasting colors. On the right-hand side of each spread, a child on a yoga mat (this photo outlined by an original mandala design) demonstrates a yoga pose inspired by the animal: “CURL like a cat! / STRETCH like a puppy! / ROAR like a lion! / TUCK like a bunny!” Four to six lines of instructional text in a smaller but still clear font guides readers into the posture and includes suggestions about when to breathe and how often to repeat the action or sustain the pose. A conversational foreword by yoga teacher Tara Stiles encourages children to “go with the flow” when trying the movements. Towler’s verses, including an introductory and closing stanza, speak directly to children’s interests: “Playful puppies run and fetch, / tumble, tussle, stop, and stretch.” Four pages of backmatter repeat on a smaller scale the photos of the animals that inspired the poses along with information about their behaviors and habitats, thumbnail photos of the five racially and gender diverse children modelling proper yoga technique, and the English and Sanskrit name of each asana.

Animals, action, and accurate information—packaged for kids. A winner. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3752-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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