Thursday, October 11, 2018

Review - I Am Peace: A Book of Mindfulness

I Am Peace: A Book of Mindfulness
by Susan Verde
illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
Date: 2017
Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: library

When the world feels chaotic, find peace within through an accessible mindfulness practice from the bestselling picture-book dream team that brought us I Am Yoga. Express emotions through direct speech. Find empathy through imagination. Connect with the earth. Wonder at the beauty of the natural world. Breathe, taste, smell, touch, and be present.

Perfect for the classroom or for bedtime, Susan Verde’s gentle, concrete narration and Peter H. Reynolds’s expressive watercolor illustrations bring the tenets of mindfulness to a kid-friendly level. Featuring an author’s note about the importance of mindfulness and a guided meditation for children, I Am Peace will help readers of all ages feel grounded and restored.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

Most of these self-help books for kids don't work that well for me. I'm an adult, so I should be able to get something out of them. But, often, the message is confusing or weak, and I'm left feeling rather unsatisfied.

This book was written and illustrated by the same team that did The Water Princess, which I really liked. But I'm afraid I Am Peace fell a bit flat for me, for a number of reasons. First, the illustrations aren't as good. The Water Princess had beautiful backgrounds; in this book, the character is placed against a white background. While the illustrations are striking and colourful, I also found them kind of boring. Second, the first two-thirds of the book are way too airy-fairy. Only at around the 67% mark do we start to get some good suggestions about practicing mindfulness (noticing what your senses are telling you, etc.). It seems way too late, and I was already getting frustrated with the book at that point; I can't imagine kids would have much more patience (especially if they actually need a book on mindfulness).

There is a guided meditation in the back of the book that sounds okay. It's mostly about noticing your breathing. It's simple enough for kids to follow, and adults might get something out of it as well.

But I still question the value of a book like this, especially if it's just handed to a kid without any discussion. Much of the first part of the book is taken up by the boy letting his worries go, without much instruction on how to do that; if it were that easy, we wouldn't need books like this in the first place.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.67 out of 5

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