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
Hogan, Eric, and Tara Hungerford. Gumboot Kids Nature Mystery. Firefly, 2021. $19.95 ea. 32 p. Grades K-2.
The Case of the Hanging Food Catcher. 978-0-228-10337-0.
The Case of the Shrinking Friend. 978-0-228-103350-5.
The mice Scout and Daisy (aka the Gumboot Kids) have returned to solve more nature-related mysteries! In The Case of the Hanging Food Catcher, when Scout and Daisy meet to pick pumpkins, Scout mentions nearly walking into a hanging food catcher earlier in the day. They consult Scout’s field notebook, where he recorded clues about his encounter, which lead them to a beautiful spider web. Their findings are confirmed when they consult a book about spiders. In The Case of the Shrinking Friend, while on a winter hike, Daisy notices that the snow mouse she had built the day before had shrunk! Using Daisy’s sketchbook filled with drawings from the day prior, they set off to solve the mystery. The clues, together with knowledge they gain from a book about weather, lead them to conclude that the snow mouse is shrinking because the warmth of the sun has melted the snow. Each title concludes with a mindful moment in which Scout and Daisy pause and reflect on nature and the knowledge they have gained. Back matter includes definitions of the terms in the field notes, a fact page featuring photographs, and a related nature craft that children can complete.
THOUGHTS: I love how this series encourages readers to solve mysteries by making observations and then consult books in the library to interpret their observations and answer their questions–what a great way to introduce the basics of the scientific research process to young readers. In addition, the series encourages readers to go out into nature, explore and engage with the world around them, and to be curious. Recommended.
500s Natural Sciences Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD
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
Leannah, Michael. Most Days. Tilbury House, 2021. 978-0-884-48727-2. 32 p. $17.96. Grades K-2.
Little moments that make up a day are highlighted with a nod to mindfulness. A variety of children share observations while completing ordinary tasks. On his way to breakfast, a boy notices six leaves on a plant where there were five yesterday. Outside, a girl in a wheelchair notices a new spiderweb. Walking through a busy neighborhood offers opportunities to take in many sights and sounds unique to the moment with a focus on positivity and the “good things happen in the ordinary minutes of the day.” Some diversity is shown among the children and adults portrayed. Calm, pastel watercolor illustrations set the scene for an engaging read aloud reminding children to find stillness and beauty in everyday moments.
THOUGHTS: A good picture book to use in conjunction with a five senses unit or to introduce mindfulness to students.
Picture Book Jackie Fulton, Mt. Lebanon SD
Peck, Christina, and Mags Deroma. Too Many Bubbles: A Story about Mindfulness. Sourcebooks, 2021. 978-1-728-23590-5. 48 p. $12.99. Grades PreK – 1.
Izzy starts with one thought, a grumpy one right above her head after a rough day, following her all day until it was time for bed. When she woke up the next morning, she had another thought bubble, and as the story goes she has more and more until they, literally, push her off the page. Izzy makes her way to her secret spot which has room for all of her bubbles. She takes a deep breath in and gently blows on the bubbles (the book encourages the reader to do the same to help Izzy). The back of the book has more information for the reader regarding mindfulness, as well as some exercises that the reader can practice. The illustrations in this book are very bright and colorful which was a nice contrast to the plot of Izzy feeling overwhelmed by all these thought bubbles.
THOUGHTS: This is a great introduction for mindfulness, as well as a great book to start a conversation with a reader about that topic. This book would be useful in any elementary library collection, or for an elementary guidance counselor or school social worker.
Picture Book Mary Hyson, Lehigh Valley Regional Charter Academy
Rayner, Catherine. Arlo: The Lion Who Couldn’t Sleep. Peachtree, 2020. $17.99. 978-1-682-63222-2. 32 p. Grades K-2.
Everyone knows that lions need a lot of sleep. Exhausted Arlo the lion searched high and low for a good place to sleep, but all he finds are faults. “The grass was too prickly and the earth was too hard” while the “sun is too hot and the night is too cold.” Nearing desperation, Arlo encounters an owl who shares her secret song for sleeping through the daytime with less than perfect conditions. Before long, Arlo is using the song to calm his mind and body to fall asleep. Feeling fully rested Arlo is excited to share with his friends whom he awakens in his excitement. Thus, the story repeats for two cycles as the lion helps his friends perfect the technique until everyone is sound asleep. Brief, repetitive text is spread sparsely over the soothing mixed media artwork featuring watercolor, screenprint, acrylic ink, and pencil allowing readers to become absorbed in the mindful message and find stillness.
THOUGHTS: A nice gentle storybook featuring elements of meditation and mindfulness for children. Delightful as a stand-alone story or a good introduction to a breathing, meditation, and mindfulness lesson.
Picture Book Jackie Fulton, Mt. Lebanon SD