Barnett, Mac. What is Love? Chronicle Books, 2021. 978-1-452-17640-6. 44 p. $17.99. Grades 2-5.
When a young person asks their grandmother, “What is love?” she simply responds that she cannot answer that question. The narrator (the young man) must go out into the world to find the answer. The young man encounters a fisherman, an actor, a cat, a carpenter, a farmer, and a soldier just to name a few, and asks the very same question to each of them. They all answer individually, but their responses do not quite satisfy the young man. In the end, the narrator is frustrated and exhausted and heads home from his journey where he finds his grandmother. It is only then that he discovers the answer to his hard asked question. Written as a fable but reads like meditation, What is Love? by Mac Barnett is a gentle and rhythmic tale that is clever and insightful. Made for a read-aloud experience, the beautifully illustrated picture book (by Carson Ellis) will raise questions and spark conversations. The tale becomes personal, and the lesson could be interpreted in multiple ways.
THOUGHTS: Written as a fable, this picture book is a great story filled with figurative language and metaphors. Definitely a book for upper elementary or even middle school readers, understanding the text is a journey and would most likely spark many interpretations and heavy conversations. Or maybe, the lesson in this tale is quite simple.
Picture Book Marie Mengel, Reading SD
Worth, Bonnie. The Cat on the Mat: All About Mindfulness. Random House, 2021. 978-0-593-37935-6. 45 p. $9.99. Grades K-3.
The beloved Cat in the Hat is back, this time to give readers tips on managing all of the stressors life tends to throw at us. In an ode to mindful meditation, the Cat in the Hat encourages readers to just sit, breathe, listen to the sounds around them, feel each body part from the inside, and focus on the present. He goes on to explain some of the benefits of being mindful, such as learning to focus and listen better and learning to be kinder to oneself and others. All of this wisdom is presented in rhyming verse and accompanied by animated illustrations that readers have come to expect from the Cat in the Hat.
THOUGHTS: Considering all of the stressors thrown at us during the last couple of years, I would say this is a very timely book and a reasonable purchase for all elementary collections. Give it to Dr. Seuss fans, students who are in stressful situations, or fans of Cosmic Kids Yoga.
Picture Book Julie Ritter
Verde, Susan. I am Courage. Abrams, 2021. 978-0-711-26145-7. p. 32. $14.99. Grades K-2.
What is courage? Is it speaking out, believing in ourselves, asking for help, trying new things, and getting back up in challenging situations? It also could mean feeling scared yet facing those things that place fear in our hearts. I am Courage, by Susan Verde and illustrated by Peter Reynolds, is a picture book that promotes love and acceptance. The story shows various ways that a person can connect with themselves and others.
We are strong.
We are capable.
We are important.
We are courage.
THOUGHTS: I am Courage, the newest addition to Susan Verde and Peter Reynolds I Am series, is a story of empowerment. Readers will be reminded that they can conquer anything and remain strong in their bodies and minds. The yoga and mindfulness exercises at the back of the picture book also will encourage readers to be strong and confident.
Picture Book Marie Mengel, Reading SD
Verde, Susan. The Three Little Yogis and the Wolf Who Lost His Breath. Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2020. $16.99. 978-1-419-74103-6. Grades K-3.
In this fractured fairy tale, the wolf has a habit of huffing, puffing, and blowing things down when he feels angry. Before long, the wolf realizes he feels worse when he sees how his behavior frightens others. There are so many things to huff about like sharing, trying difficult things and feeling hungry that the wolf runs out of breath. Turning his frustrations toward the three little yogis, he is met with compassion. Instead of running away, they teach him to mediate, breath, and pose. Readers are reminded that everyone gets angry sometimes. Belly breathing, butterfly breaths and supported breathing techniques help the wolf finally feel relaxed. Common terminology from sun salutation to savasana is introduced. A few yoga poses such as downward dog and half-moon are sprinkled throughout. Social emotional learning themes are present as the wolf becomes aware of his behaviors, reflects on his feelings and practices new techniques in lieu of huffing and puffing. Pencil and digitally colored illustrations fill the pages with a healthy dose of tranquil whimsy. Backmatter includes a few brief but useful tips for budding yogis.
THOUGHTS: This book is a must-have for libraries looking to develop their lower elementary collection of books about breathing, meditation, and yoga. A great picture book to pair with an interactive yoga storytime for young learners.
Picture Book Jackie Fulton, Mt. Lebanon SD