Fine for what it is; thankfully, young aspiring yogis have better options in this growing genre.




A slim child yogi named Kika and her monkey sidekick, Yazoo, introduce readers to 14 yoga poses and four guided meditations.

The book divides the poses by mood for quick access to suit distinct needs. The featured poses are age appropriate in terms of their blend of accessibility and challenge. Pose instructions are direct and succinct, with the accompanying illustration clearly depicting the end shape. The book concludes with notes for adults who may be assisting children in their practice. Varying privileges are assumed—for example, that readers will have access to a quiet space, a yoga mat, and adults able to assist them by reading the guided meditations aloud. No modifications are offered for varying body types or abilities. The inclusion of Yazoo, with his dark-brown and skin-smooth fur and large, white eyes, seems meant to be silly, but it’s at best unnecessary and borders on uncomfortable, particularly when there are comments made in the text such as the light-skinned Kika’s reference to him as “my little banana muncher.” Overall, the book fails to honor the intellect and curiosity of the independent readers who may be drawn to it and is too reduced to instruction for the very young who may enjoy playing with yoga through story.

Fine for what it is; thankfully, young aspiring yogis have better options in this growing genre. (Nonfiction. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61180-439-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Bala Kids/Shambhala

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 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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