The Disney-princess version of a yoga picture book; undoubtedly marketable and predictably flawed.




Page by page, young readers are guided through a sun salutation, one of the most recognizable sequences in contemporary Western yoga.

Hinder’s exuberant style radiates a color palette warm as the morning sun. Subtle details seem to shimmer on the page. The text opens with wonderful simplicity, providing movement instruction and inviting readers to notice what they experience. It quickly becomes overworked, however, abandoning simplicity in favor of forced rhyme. The text alone does little to explain the movements, and the accompanying images are problematic as models. Like many yoga-themed picture books published recently, this work falls prey to the trap of presenting yoga sequences that are recognizable to adults without adapting the poses for young bodies. The plank and knee-chest-chin poses depicted, for example, require an inappropriate degree of core strength for the target audience. The single child depicted is overtly feminine in appearance. A contemplative, closed-mouth smile graces a tan-skinned face framed by flowing dark hair. While this version of feminine serenity will certainly appeal widely to yoga teachers and practitioners, it simultaneously reinforces stereotypical notions that yoga is an activity for “girls”—one limited to a certain kind of girl at that. Chipper animals flock to the child at every turn; one nearly expects the cast of characters to burst into song. Backmatter presents the flow of the salutation and discusses both the practice and meditation.

The Disney-princess version of a yoga picture book; undoubtedly marketable and predictably flawed. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68364-283-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sounds True

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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


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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Every child can benefit from these important strategies.



Ollie is only a puppy, and his barefooted child is having trouble soothing and training him.

Ollie can get overly excited or very anxious—which wouldn’t be such a problem if he wasn’t constantly barking inside his person’s head! He yaps for no reason and wants to run and jump when he should be calm and quiet. What happens when the puppy controls the child and not the other way around? “AWOOO!” The narrator, who has brown skin and dark brown hair, mirrors the frantic antics of the puppy until the application of mindfulness techniques helps mellow out the two friends. Gravel uses the analogy of an exuberant puppy to help young children get the upper hand on a stressed and anxious mind. The puppy analogy devolves at times to cutesy: “I love Ollie. He’s such a good puppy. He is my best friend.” Nevertheless, coping mechanisms are effectively introduced. The author demonstrates how the mind can be calmed by using breathing practices—the child calls their breath a “magical leash”—physical exercise, and focus. Gravel’s signature black-outlined, comics-style drawings and oversized, colorful text stand out against generous negative space. The golden, long-eared puppy’s expressive features (bugged eyes and lolling red tongue) and cavorting, stubby-legged body successfully convey kinetic energy overload. The subtitle’s a bit of a misnomer, as anxiety relief rather than mindfulness is the focus, but the advice is sound, buttressed by a brief afterword from a pediatrician. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-17.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Every child can benefit from these important strategies. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-303767-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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