Teachers may find this well-meaning guide useful, but it won’t be top-of-mind for most children.

READ REVIEW

MINDFUL ME

MINDFULNESS AND MEDITATION FOR KIDS

An earnest introduction to a secular mindfulness practice.

After introducing basic vocabulary and definitions, Stewart explains meditation and breathing techniques using the metaphor of a toolbox. Seven more chapters provide detail about how to apply the tools to the inner self, emotions, thoughts, actions, heart, home, and outside. Some chapters include guided visualizations. Each includes broad journal prompts and encourages the use of the Mindful Me Activity Book (sold separately). The final chapter reminds readers that mindfulness is a practice that takes time and attention. Stewart is careful to not guarantee specific outcomes and leaves the choice of how and when to use the exercises open to readers. Still, repetition of similar points and her earnest tone sometimes come across as preachy. Older children may find the self-conscious, repeated use of the branding phrase “MINDFUL ME,” instead of simply “mindfulness,” patronizing. In the introduction, Stewart claims 12 benefits to mindfulness practice that “scientists and doctors have discovered” but cites no studies or sources to support this assertion. There is a nod to inclusion with illustrations showing a child in a wheelchair and another with glasses, as well as children with varying skin tones and hairstyles. However, middle-class assumptions and values permeate the situations used to explain the technique, as in the assumption that readers will have their own bedrooms, or indeed quiet rooms at all, to retreat to.

Teachers may find this well-meaning guide useful, but it won’t be top-of-mind for most children. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8075-5144-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many.

GUTS

Young Raina is 9 when she throws up for the first time that she remembers, due to a stomach bug. Even a year later, when she is in fifth grade, she fears getting sick.

Raina begins having regular stomachaches that keep her home from school. She worries about sharing food with her friends and eating certain kinds of foods, afraid of getting sick or food poisoning. Raina’s mother enrolls her in therapy. At first Raina isn’t sure about seeing a therapist, but over time she develops healthy coping mechanisms to deal with her stress and anxiety. Her therapist helps her learn to ground herself and relax, and in turn she teaches her classmates for a school project. Amping up the green, wavy lines to evoke Raina’s nausea, Telgemeier brilliantly produces extremely accurate visual representations of stress and anxiety. Thought bubbles surround Raina in some panels, crowding her with anxious “what if”s, while in others her negative self-talk appears to be literally crushing her. Even as she copes with anxiety disorder and what is eventually diagnosed as mild irritable bowel syndrome, she experiences the typical stresses of school life, going from cheer to panic in the blink of an eye. Raina is white, and her classmates are diverse; one best friend is Korean American.

With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many. (Graphic memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-545-85251-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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A painful and painfully recognizable tale of one girl’s struggle to make and keep “one good friend.” (author’s note)...

REAL FRIENDS

A truth-telling graphic memoir whose theme song could be Johnny Lee’s old country song “Lookin’ for Love in all the Wrong Places.”

Shannon, depicted in Pham’s clear, appealing panels as a redheaded white girl, starts kindergarten in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1979, and her story ends just before sixth grade. Desperately longing to be in “the group” at school, Shannon suffers persistent bullying, particularly from a mean girl, Jenny, which leads to chronic stomachaches, missing school, and doctor visits. Contemporary readers will recognize behaviors indicative of obsessive-compulsive disorder, but the doctor calls it anxiety and tells Shannon to stop worrying. Instead of being a place of solace, home adds to Shannon’s stress. The middle child of five, she suffers abuse from her oldest sibling, Wendy, whom Pham often portrays as a fierce, gigantic bear and whom readers see their mother worrying about from the beginning. The protagonist’s faith (presented as generically Christian) surfaces overtly a few times but mostly seems to provide a moral compass for Shannon as she negotiates these complicated relationships. This episodic story sometimes sticks too close to the truth for comfort, but readers will appreciate Shannon’s fantastic imagination that lightens her tough journey toward courage and self-acceptance.

A painful and painfully recognizable tale of one girl’s struggle to make and keep “one good friend.” (author’s note) (Graphic memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-416-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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