King Calm: Mindful Gorilla in the City
By Susan D. Sweet and Brenda S. Miles, Authors
Bryan Langdo, Illustrator
Magination Press, Fiction, Oct. 17, 2016
Suitable for Ages: 4-8
Themes: Distractions, Slowing down, Paying attention to the present moment, Mindfulness
Opening: In a Great Big City, there lived a gorilla named Marvin. Marvin wasn’t like other gorillas. He didn’t stomp his feet, he never wanted to fight, and he never pounded his chest with a thump thump roar!
Book Synopsis: Meet Marvin. He’s a gorilla living in a Great Big City. He is peaceful and composed and enjoys every minute of his day. He doesn’t approach life with a thump thump roar. Instead Marvin experiences the world mindfully through his senses. He’s the King of Calm.
Why I like this book:
The authors have written an engaging and entertaining book about Marvin, who is a calm and gentle character who notices things other people miss because they are distracted or too busy to care. When Marvin slowly eats his banana he notices the bright yellow outside and the sweet ripe inside. His grandfather doesn’t understand Marvin because he’s impatient with life, gobbles his food and is ready to move on to their next activity. While Marvin is very observant, Grandpa never really takes a moment to stop to enjoy his surroundings until…
I am pleased to see the growing number of books that encourage kids to slow down, pay attention to whatever they are doing in the moment, and notice the beautiful world around them. It is good to introduce mindfulness practice to children. Start at a young age, when they are open and eager to explore everything they see, smell, taste, touch, and hear.
Bryan Langdo’s illustrations are colorful, lively, diverse and expressive. Children will enjoy studying the detail on each page. As parents and teachers read this book to children, the illustrations are a great place to ask questions. What are the people at the fountain doing and does anyone notice its beauty except Marvin? What happens to the other people in the illustrations when they are distracted in the city scene? How do they react? Are they calm or reactive?
Resources: The book includes a Reader’s Note filled with information about learning to pay attention to your life through your senses by living mindfully. Start by paying attention to what you are eating rather than gobbling it down. Be more observant when you take a walk and notice the smells in the air, the cloud formations, or look into a stream. Is it a cool or sticky day? Close your eyes and listen to the sounds around you. What do you hear? Sit on a bench and observe. How do you feel?
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.