Sunday, February 24, 2008


TWIST: YOGA POEMS by Janet S. Wong, illustrated by Julie Paschkis (McElderberry)

Head to foot to foot,
Finger to finger to toe,
Hand to ankle to hip:
My body is a puzzle of triangles.

The lines are invisible
but straight and strong.
Children’s imaginations will stretch and stretch with this collection of short poems that combine mind and body. A child can become a cobra, pushing up from damp soil, a half-moon grabbing hold of a star, a graceful warrior, a roaring lion, a swaying tree, or back again into a child (The chick-child curls up and breathes full./Her body remembers the inside of the eggshell,/the firm roundness of her first home.) Serene and spell-like, each poem is graced with a bold illustrated border. This unusual pick will help all readers become more comfortable in their own skins. (6 and up)

Also of interest:
I have to confess, after a few hard fouls in basketball, I was the girl who made up almost any excuse to sit on the sidelines during gym, and my only physical fortitude was demonstrated through square-dancing. That said, I find these bones finally creaking and cracking towards the new hope of adding a little action to the reading experience.

MY DADDY IS A PRETZEL by Baron Baptiste, illustrated by Sophie Fatus (Barefoot Books) During circle time, children take turns saying what their parent does for a living, and each answer is related to a yoga pose that children can try themselves. The dog pose for the vet! The airplane pose for the pilot! The plow pose for the farmer! The pretzel pose for the baker! Extremely cheerful and folksy art carries the storyline, and also visually outlines the steps toward achieving the yoga poses. “The practices here give children and adults alike targets to aim for and examples to follow, while the storyline shows how the benefits and inner meanings of the yoga postures relate to the way we live, whatever our profession or status in life,” the author explains in his introduction. A very nice beginning book…one step in a long journey, as they say. (4 and up)

It’s so hard to find a book that really, truly gives new energy to sharing stories with kids, but this one does the trick. Short-easy-to-learn stories from around the world with character education themes are integrated with yoga movements (photographs included) that match the actions and characters in the narrative. This is an extremely generous book; with notes on safety, warm-ups, class control and inclusion, as well as games and exercises for creative relaxation for kids, it’s clear that the author’s intent was that anyone could create a whole yoga/storytelling practice using the content of this book. Even if that is not the case, the author has offered us a new outlook on the connections between health and literacy, and educators can all breathe easier at this truly joyful possibility of individualizing instruction for kids with learning differences, so they can get up and move during storytimes without being disruptive. What an exciting concept! (Adult)

Links are provided for informational use. Don't forget to support your local bookseller.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Esme, I was so pleased to see that you, like me, were enthralled by the latest Janet Wong - Julie Paschkis collaboration. I think it's long past time for Julie to get the Caldecott nod. Her artwork is absolutely glorious. And Janet's words are a yoga pose unto themselves: they twist in the most unexpected and revelatory ways.



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