Always Be Dancing Expressive Arts

Yoga and Flamenco for Every/body


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Mindful Book Reviews By Eve: Julián Is A Mermaid by Jessica Love

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Today, I read Julián Is A Mermaid by Jessica Love (Candlewick) in my kids yoga classes today. The children range from age 2 1/2-almost 6 and one of their favorite activities is the Calming Rock meditation time. Each child gets a pile of colored glass rocks: some large and flat, some chunky, some blue, some green, some clear, some red, orange and yellow. They know that once the quiet music goes on, it is time to settle down and take on quiet bodies, mouths and minds. It is time to let their imaginations free and make designs or pictures or just enjoy the beautiful colors and textures of their rocks. After a full class practicing the skills of movement and stillness, I brought the rocks out, turned on some quiet music and the kids settled into the routine. I told them that I would be reading them a story and that some of the pages had words and pictures and some of the pages were only pictures. I explained that I would hold the book up and they had the choice to just listen, or they could look up and see the pictures as I would quietly alert them if the page had no words so they could see the pictures as I moved them slowly by.

I told them it was a story about mermaids and we immediately got into a discussion of other things that live in the sea and about the water and the waves. We decided our rocks reminded us of the ocean and we imagined a wave rolling in and messing up the sand beneath and then calming so the water becomes clear again. I started reading the beautiful simple prose and loved the peppering of a few Spanish words such as abuela grandmother mijo my dear; this is very endearing and has a feeling of love and safety. The children calmly listened to me and played with their rocks, and most eyes lifted as I passed the book by. I would watch their eyes take in the sequences of pictures and the special look that would come into their eyes when they got the story. To say I love this book is not enough. The message is one of hope, acceptance and authenticity and is accessible to the very young as well as the old. I am meeting with a local GSA today at a middle school and this book will be part of their yoga/mindfulness class as well. I cannot recommend this book enough. It should be in every school, every library, every home. It is a beautifully crafted message of love and the illustrations are fantastically expressive. This is a home run for this debut author-illustrator.

Even with young children as young as this, discussions happened around accepting other languages styles, choices, ways of being; accepting ourselves and that each individual person is really the only one who knows themselves and for them to nurture and love their inner self (of course I used a fun analogy of a tiny them inside themselves driving around them around like a giant ship.) I explained that even when that ship goes to school or is at home or is with friends, that the inner core them was always the same and they could feel safe, strong and grounded in that knowledge of who they really are. I was able to tell them that their really is a Mermaid Parade that happens in New York where everyone dresses like mermaids and parades together to the sea. https://www.coneyisland.com/programs/mermaid-parade

This book is about:

#acceptance #consciousness #diversity #character #love #courage #compassion #pride #empathy #support #lovingkindness #freetobeyou #freetobeme #freetobe #instalove #inclusion #strength #culture #community #comunidad #equality #mermaid #mermaidparade #coneyisland #Iam #satnam #authenticity #individuality

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Mindful Book Reviews By Eve: When Paul Met Artie: The Story of Simon & Garfunkel by G. Neri; Illustrated by David Litchfield.

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This is a gorgeous, oversized picture book that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. The multi-colored drawings that accompany each page spread are thought provoking, sensitive portrayals of this legendary rock duo. I love the special appearance of Bob Dylan atop a brightly colored rainbow. This book tells their story through poetic verse, filling each stanza with details, thoughts and inspirations of their journey together. I enjoyed learning about who they were and where they came from. Great non-fiction book. It would look great on a coffee table-commanding space with its richly hued cover (both the book cover and the actual book are beautiful!)

Thank you to Candlewick Press for sending me a copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

Here is author G. Neri talking about his inspiration behind the book. And a blog that adds how to integrate the book into the classroom.


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Mindful Book Reviews By Eve: The Tiptoeing Tiger by Philippa Leathers

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I love this little tigers determination! This is a delightful story about believing in oneself. It’s a story about resilience, learning that where there’s a will there’s a way and and knowing when to laugh. The illustrations accompany the words wonderfully. The tiger is so sweet and is accompanied by a whole menagerie of other sweet wild animals. Above all this is a book about knowing it is good to be you. It is a great confidence building book for young children. I have already used it in my early education yoga classes and the kids took to it right away and it paired perfectly with yoga poses such as tiger, elephant, rock, snake, monkey and frog. Love it! Sweet message!

Thank you to Candlewick Press for sending me a cop of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.


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Mindful Book Reviews By Eve: Drawn From Nature by Helen Ahpornsiri

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Drawn From Nature in front of a watercolor by my mother Amelia Robin Agush. It was her rendition of the park next to our house.

This is an excellent nature book, weaved throughout by a book about the seasons accompanied by some of the nicest nature collages I have ever seen. I rate this book a Capital “G” for GREAT, GORGEOUS, GLORIOUS and GO GET it now! The beautiful art of Ms. Ahpornsiri is truly incredible. You can see her connection to nature through her attention to detail, employing so precisely varied colors, shapes and textures to form and enliven each creation. I love her imaginative use of tiny flowers, delicately curled ferns, spindly roots and all the perfectly preserved flora that accompanies so many interesting facts about nature. This book is just so beautiful. I highly recommend it. Get it for you…get it for the nature lover in your life…so many options!

Here is a sweet book trailer that I found online.

Thank you to Candlewick Press for sending me a copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.


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Flamenco Books for Young Readers and To Read Aloud

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  • All About Flamenco/Todos Sobre Flamenco by Silvia Oivo

  • Aunt Elaine Does The Dance From Spain by Leah Komaiko
  • Bird With The Heart Of A Mountain by Barbara Mariconda
  • Flamenco Fantasy by Cynthia Ventrola Struven
  • Lola’s Fandango by Ann Witte
  • Mo Baila Flamenco by Fresia Barrientos Morales 
  • ¡Olé! Flamenco by George Ancona
  • Perlie and The Flamenco Fairy by Wendy Harmer
  • Quiero Bailar Flamenco by Azucena Huidobro
  • Spain by Susie Brooks
  • Spain: The Culture by Noa Lior
  • Thea Stilton and The Spanish Dance Mission by Thea Stilton
  • Today I Am A Dancer by Marisa Polansky
  • With Love From Spain by Carol Weston


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Book Reviews by Eve: Boys Dancing by George Ancona & Tap Tap Boom Boom by Elizabeth Bluemle

Book Reviews by Eve: Two books from Candlewick Press that highlight dance and rhythm are Boys Dancing by George Ancona & Tap Tap Boom Boom by Elizabeth Bluemle.

IMG_9070Boys Dancing by George Ancona is the second book I know by the author, the first being ¡Olé! Flamenco, which is another great non-fiction book about dance. Both books include fun photo illustrations that really highlight the story. In Boys Dancing, I like the foot step pattern that leads you through the pages of the book. These kids faces really tell the whole story. They are so engaging and engaged. You can see form their faces their focus, determination and joy at dancing. The instructor is equally connected and together they learn about dancing with their bodies, minds and energies. This story shows the dedicated dancers and teachers and how a whole production comes together, from school gym to studio to stage. Dance is for boys. It is community building and the story shows how hard work is fun and rewarding. ¡Olé!

IMG_9068Tap Tap Boom Boom by Elizabeth Bluemle lives up to its name as a great choice of onomatopoeia for a rain storm. The delightful illustrations by G. Brian Karas are a cross between photo realism and sweet cartoonish images. The reader not only looks at the scenes, but also up and down and from within them. You feel like one of the pack of people escaping the rain storm! This is a very engaging and entertaining story that promotes community, friendship and the love of a good rain storm!

Thank you to Candlewick Press for sending me these books. All opinions are my own.


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Book Review by Eve: Pancho Bandito and the Amarillo Armadillo Written by Mike Sundy; Illustrated by Jonathan Sundy

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Well right off the bat, let me say, I love anything armadillo. They have to be the coolest animal on the planet! They are literally present-day dinosaurs and are the only mammal with a built in suit of armor. They can hold their breath for up to 6 minutes and the 3-banded one can roll up arm3in a ball to protect itself from predators. They are also coolly adaptive creatures as they have minimal vision and hearing but they have a great sense of smell. They are my spirit animal!

The Sundy Brothers are a dynamic duo! This epic cowboy tale, written by Mike Sundy, is accompanied by the adorable illustrations of his brother, Jonathan Sundy and together these two pack a punch. With the resounding moral of the story being “what seems insurmountable is not” brought together with a giant sized bandito and an equally giant sized amarillo armadillo throw in some spicy hot Hatch chiles, a true southwestern staple, and a generous dose of humor and you have a highly entertaining story for children and their families. I love that the rhyme scheme is peppered with Spanish words. This delightful book has gripping action scenes, teaches about the importance of friendship, is multicultural and promotes diversity. One more thing, when reading out loud, it must be read with a drawling cowboy accent! Too funny! This book will definitely put a smile on your face and I promise, your mouth will be watering thinking of those vinegary, spicy peppers!

I highly recommend this book. Kid and grown ups will love it and it can be read again and again. The pictures are adorable. I love each emotive glance, whether human or animal!

How will I use this book?

This is a great book to use when teaching kids about the differences between the Fight or Flight stress reaction and the Relaxation Response. The F/F stress response occurs naturally when stress is perceived and it is designed to protect us from bodily harm.

The Relaxation Response is a accessible and beneficial way to turn off F/F stress response and bring the body back to pre-stress levels. Unlike the F/F stress response, the Relaxation Response must be practiced as it is not a natural occurring reaction to a situation. The beauty of it is, though, that the more you practice it, the stronger your ability is to calm down after stress. The RR can be initiated by deep breathing, yoga, visualizations, and other calming modalities.

Stress comes from how we perceive things. We need the Fight or Flight stress response in situations when stress is real, like when a tiger walks into the room. You need to decide whether to fight or run away, and your body needs to be ready to act-fast! But what happens if you expect a tiger to walk in and you get all stressed out and anxious, your sweating, your heart is beating fast, maybe you get a headache or your stomach gets upset and then in walks a kitten. No stress at all but your body is ready to fight or flight. Now you need to calm down fast! Take some deep breaths. Bring your heart rate, your blood pressure and your energy down. Try not to predetermine that a tiger is going to walk in every time. Let life unfold and allow it to happen. Your Fight or Flight stress response will be there when you need it, but you do not always need it.

Full disclosure: The author sent me a copy of this book. All opinions are my own.