King Calm: Mindful Gorilla in the City

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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

OpeningIn 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.

1-2-3 A Calmer Me

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Colleen A. Patterson and Brenda S. Miles, Authors

Claire Keay, Illustrator

Magination Press, Fiction, Sep. 22, 2015

Suitable for Ages: 5-8

Themes: Anger, Emotions, Calmness

Opening: I am happy, but sometimes I feel mad and VERY frustrated! Like the other day when I let go of my balloon. I felt s-o-o-o mad!

Synopsis: A girl becomes angry when she lets go of her balloon. Her friend tells her it’s okay to feel mad, but there is something she can do to feel better. He shares with her a rhyme he uses to calm his body and mind. “1-2-3 a calmer me. 1-2-3 I hug me. 1-2-3 relax and b-r-e-a-t-h-e…1-2-3 a calmer me.” When she discovers it melts her angry feelings, she begins to use the technique when someone takes away her favorite crayon, when she has to stop playing and eat dinner, and when she loses a race.

Why I like this book:

I was delighted to discover Colleen A. Patterson and Brenda S. Miles’ book which helps children with relaxation and mindfulness when their emotions spin out of control. We need more books like this to use at home and at school to help upset kids regain control so that they don’t act out in a harmful way. Claire Keay’s illustrations are rendered in warm and comforting pastels and capture the emotion of the story.

1-2-3 A Calmer Me introduces readers to a very simple rhyming mantra to help them stop their negative reaction, calm their anger, frustration or disappointment and replace it with a very easy technique.  In the first action of the mantra the girl wraps her arms around herself and gives herself a big, tight hug. Then she counts again and slowly breathes in and out and relaxes her body. In the last action she slowly releases her hug and lets her arms dangle by her side. She feels the relaxation.

Resources: The book includes a “Note to Parents, Teachers and Other Grown-Ups” with more information about the steps of the “1-2-3” rhyme, and advice for working through the steps with your child.