This is a marvelous children's book. I have always loved children's literature, so have read a lot of it, from many ages. Rarely have I come across one done in such a thoughtful manner as this one. When I finished it the first time, I really stopped to ponder what else in my world am I missing out on, just because I haven't taken the time to stop and think about one idea in different contexts.
My Magic Breath is a colorful manual on how to use breath as a tool that can be practiced alongside specific visualizations in order to work with negative, unwelcomed thoughts. Personally, I’m not a fan of the notion that we need to blow sad thoughts completely “off the page,” as I believe there is a place for them in the holistic narrative as well. But, using breath with positive imagery is a very effective way to create space in the psyche for more pleasant thoughts. My two-year-old—who adores blowing out fake birthday candles—really resonated with this one. Regardless of the specifics, I’m a big fan of bringing awareness to the breath, as this book most certainly does.
Wordless Picture Books: Picture books that tell the story completely through illustrations with no words at all, or only a very few embedded in the artwork, are known as wordless picture books. One of the most stunning examples is The Lion and the Mouse, an Aesop's fable, retold in illustrations by Jerry Pinkney. Pinkney received the 2010 Randolph Caldecott Medal for picture book illustration for his wordless picture book. Another wonderful example, which is often used in middle school writing classes as a writing prompt is A Day A Dog by Gabrielle Vincent.
Author Kira Willey is a children’s music and yoga expert. You can feel her wide-awake energy in the pages of Breathe Like a Bear. Thirty bite-sized mini-meditations—with names such as “Candle Breath” and “Wake Up Your Face”—are accompanied by fanciful, super-inviting animal images. The author has sectioned off the meditations by energy: “Be Calm,” “Focus,” “Imagine,” “Make Some Energy,” and “Relax.” But I could easily see this as being a family-friendly coffee table book that adults and children alike can pick up, open to any random page, do the tiny practice and be a just a bit more mindful and centered because of it.
A story with a moral to learn is something to treasure, and this is one such story. These educational stories are very easy to add to the best children’s books of all-time. The rainbow fish happens to be the most beautiful fish in the ocean, and he knows it. His beauty has gone to his head and has even made him become proud and rude to his friends. When his friends all abandon him, he knows that there is something wrong, but can’t imagine what it is. He finds the wise old octopus and asks for some advice. The octopus tells him to share some of his beauty with others, and to begin looking at the beauty that comes from the inside as being what really makes someone beautiful. Though it is shiny and colorful, this is one story that offers more than outer beauty.
This is the tale of Max and Arthur, who are wonderful friends who share a common hobby: painting. Arthur is quite the accomplished artist, while Max is just starting out. When Max’s initial attempt at painting is less than he desires, the two friends embark on a journey through the numerous artistic media options – which leads to hilarious and unexpected challenges. Max may be inexperienced, but he’s a fast learner and is willing to try new things. The energy and enthusiasm he shows adds adventure and leads to a wonderful, triumphant end. This is a book that shows kids that practice really can make perfect.
Since Jenkins's subtitle - Being the Wintertime Adventures of a Curious Stuffed Buffalo, a Sensitive Plush Stingray, and a Book-Loving Rubber Ball - provides the gist of the story, let's cut to the chase: the snowy explorations of this trio of toys, captured in expansive detail in Zelinsky's illustrations and Jenkins's wonderfully understated wit, brim with the magic of discovery, the joy of companionship, and the beauty of seeing the world through multiple perspectives (even when one is a rubber ball that, technically, lacks eyes).
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