Always Be Dancing

The Art of Movement for Every/body & Mindful Book Reviews By Eve


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Mindful Book Reviews By Eve: Early Fall Line-Up of Picture Books from Candlewick Press

Flying Paintings The  Zhou Brothers: A Story of Revolution and Art by Amy Alznauer; paintings by ShanZuo Zhou & DaHuang Zhou

Art is powerful and its transformational power takes center stage in this historic tale of the Zhou brothers whose lives and art were shaped largely by the Cultural Revolution in China. This is a heavy theme for a children’s picture book but with the author’s gentle touch of the subject, accompanied by dynamic ink-and-watercolor paintings by the subjects themselves, readers are immersed in the bold artistic style and the courageous spirit of the Zhou brothers. The book focuses not only on the historical moment in time but also on the difficulties that arise in families and those that relate to art, country, and humankind. The book is magnificently illustrated with art by the Zhou brothers themselves, enlivening the tale with a sense of a first hand narrative. This is a wonderful early non-fiction book that introduces two contemporary Chinese artists who were confronted with much suffering and many roadblocks but were still able to rise up and be true to who they really were. 

Grow: Secrets of Our DNA by Nicola Davies; illustrated by Emily Sutton

Knowledge is magnificent and this book is armed to the gills with it. From the beautifully drawn helices on the end pages to the realistic illustrations that bring life to the fascinating world of DNA, this book is a STEAM book for all ages. One of the best takeaways from this book is that although our DNA makes us unique, the fact that uniqueness is a constant for all living creations, only proves that we are all just one giant community. All the same, yet all different. All things grow, all things change. 

The cover drew me right in. The illustrator’s use of a variety of mediums, such as pastels, colored pencils, ink and watercolors are a beautiful blend of the simple and the complex. Although the illustrations are cartoon-like, they craftily capture important details using design elements such as texture, color and line. The illustrations wonderfully carry the science of the subject matter. The characters are diverse, the information is highly accessible and interesting and will surely kick off a larger quest for knowledge. I highly recommend this wonderful introduction to life science.  

Jabari Tries by Gaia Cornwall

Jabari is at it again! He does not let failure get him down. He uses creative thought to problem solve and just has a total CAN DO attitude! The book has a great non-fiction element that celebrates black scientists and doctors who help to fire up Jabari’s determination to figure things out. Jabari is honest and he gets frustrated, but his dad brings in the mindfulness aspect that scientists really need and after a few calming breaths, Jabari is ready to give it another try. Through his efforts, Jabari learns compromise and cooperation and through just enough action and rest time, he learns how to be successful and how to have fun!

The illustrations are fun and I just love the Rube Goldberg machines they come up with and the happy way a family interacts and relies on each other for support and love. Very sweet STEAM focused book and an inspirational story of perseverance, problem solving and creativity. 

Love Is Powerful by Heather Dean Brewer; illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Just like the disco song expresses, Love is the message! Love is, love is the message that I sing to you; Love is the message that I bring to you; Love is the message for a song…. Love is the message for us all! This book shows how a small child, who might be wondering how they can make an impact on the world, that one small gesture can have a much larger effect. This book is a great gateway into the world of activism and brings to light the invisible roots of our global connection. This book gives hope and highlights acceptance and shows how important it is to stand up for human rights for all peoples of the world. This story recounts a true story of the power to unify through love and positivity and how you’re never too young to be an inspiration. The march of diverse characters pulls you right in. They are so endearing with their shining eyes and smiles and pink “cat” hats, the 100’s of hearts floating all around the pages and the beautiful affirmations decorating the signs. This is what the world needs now! I see it right alongside Julian Is A Mermaid, by Jessica Love, as books that will become anthems for the ages. 

Norman: One Amazing Goldfish! By Kelly Bennett; illustrated by Noah Z. Jones

Filled with bright bold colors, this amusing story highlights overcoming fear, the power of the true friendship that one can have with a pet, and a trust in one’s own self-worth. This is a fun read and will keep the attention of young readers who will be able to relate to overcoming shyness when introduced to something new. People might try to douse your inner spirit with negativity but if you are true to yourself, whatever the final result, you will gain confidence, knowledge and above all, self- respect!  Three cheers for Norman the amazing goldfish. This is a delightful story with a positive message!

Will You Be My Friend by Sam McBratney; Illustrated by Anita Jeram

We’ve been waiting a lifetime for this sequel. This book just feels like home. The characters are so familiar and with each illustration of their expressive faces, you fall deeper and deeper in love with them. I just want to stroke the new bunnies sweet pink nose-enough it is cartoon-like, it has an element of realness that just makes them so cuddly. I love the hopping bunnies on the end sheets  that just led you into this story about the joys of discovering a new fiend. This is a warm  and wonderful tale that leaves ample space for children to illustrate the tale for themselves, is a loving portrayal of a young child’s growing independence and the deep seated happiness of finding a new friend.

Thank you to Candlewick Press for all of these amazing books. All opinions expressed are my own.


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Yoga and Mindfulness Games for the Holidays (plus 6/1-minute breathing activities to bring calming, peaceful energy)

Spending time with family and friends is a great time to practice mindfulness. Here are three games, plus 6/ 1-minute meditations you can do anywhere, anytime.

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Mindful Jenga

What you’ll need:

  • Jenga game
  • Set of yoga, mindfulness, table talk…cards
  • Family/Friends

How to play?

Set up the game. Shuffle all cards together. Turn pile upside down and place near the game.

  1. Traditional rules of Jenga apply. Do not choose tiles from the top 3 tiers.
  2. Choose a tile. Breathe in. Remove tile carefully. Breathe out.
  3. Place tile on top of the tower.
  4. Flip top card. Everyone completes the designated action. If a yoga pose is chosen, take a breath in and out in the pose. Do both sides, if needed.

    Card Deck Suggestions:

 

Yoga Memory

What you’ll need: TN1841_ThinkFun_-_Yoga_Memory_Game_1_grande

  • Yoga Memory Set (of course you can make you’r own too…which could be a totally other mindful activity. Everyone designs two yoga/mindfulness activity cards….. They can be similar pictures or  even two aspects of the same idea…which could lead to cross matching….oh! So many options)
  • Family/Friends

How to play?

Mix-up tiles/cards. Set up game. Traditional memory has 36 matching pairs for a total of 72 tiles. Reducing the number of tiles used can make the game easier and more fun if needed for special adaptation. .

  1. Traditional Memory rules apply.
  2. When a pair is found, all participants practice the activity.
  3. Breathe in and out in each pose. Do both sides of a 2-sided pose.

 

Found Object Mandala

A mandala is a series of concentric circles, beginning with a central concept, an then radiating out to the outer rim with repeating shapes, colors or designs.

What you’ll need:

  • Nik-Naks, Bric-A Brac, screws, nuts and bolts, pins, jacks, toy cars, ABC blocks, sea glass, beach rocks, or head outside for a walk and collect leaves, acorns, stones….everything and anything that has multiples.
  • A large open space, maybe covered with a table cloth.
  • Friends/Family

How to play:

  1. First, look around the space you are in and find mandalas, for example, a clock face, the ceiling sprinklers, window moldings, etc. Think of  mandalas outside, for example, the sun, a flower, a hubcap, etc.
  2. Work as a team to build the mandala.
  3. For fun, take photos throughout the process. This makes a nice flip book or picture video or even a nice picture for next years holiday card.

 

6/ 1-Minute Meditations:

  1. Whistle Breathing: Whistling is breath and music combined that you create with the lips. It is very powerful because it relaxes inside and out. It creates inner balance.

    A. To do it on the inhalation: pucker your lips, concentrate on the third eye point, and inhale through the mouth making a high-pitched whistle. Exhale through the nose. Focus the third-eye point on the sound of the whistle on the inhalation and on the soft sound of the breath through the nose on the exhalation.

    B. To do it on the exhalation, reverse the procedure: inhale through the nose and exhale through the puckered lips with a whistle. Focus the eyes at the third eye point and focus the third-eye point on the sound of the whistle on the inhalation and on the soft sound of the breath through the nose on the exhalation.

  2. Tongue Action Meditation A:  Stick your tongue: left, right, in, out. You will start to laugh!
  3. Tongue Action meditation B: Roll your tongue on the inside of the mouth around the gum and lips (not the teeth) as if you are wiping peanut butter off from the inside of your mouth. Can switch directions 1/2 way through, if desired.
  4. Kiss the air! Pucker up and kiss the air. Or possibly kiss the left palm and then the right, back and forth.
  5. “Z” Stand: Balance on toes; bend knees slightly as if to start sitting down; arms out, parallel to the ground, palms facing down; Chin gently dropped; Eyes 9/10th’s closed; Breath-of-fire. Short sniff in and short puff out with the nose or circled lips. Focus on the navel point.
  6. 4-Stroke Breathe: Emergency calming activity! Breathe in 4 strokes with the nose; Breathe out all in one stoke, to the count of 4,3,2,1. (the exhale can be through the nose or with the mouth).

 

 


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Mindful Book Reviews By Eve: Mr. Posey’s New Glasses by Ted Kooser

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What a hip grandpa-type Mr. Posey is! I loved immediately the intergenerational friendship between Mr. Posey and Andy. It immediately blankets the story with a sense of compassion and brotherly love that is only reiteration through the fun the two have on their outing, which seems to be a common thing for them to do.

It is funny to think Mr. Posey could get a new pair of glasses at a thrift store as it is obvious that he needs a prescription to see, but that is the fun. With each new/old pair of glasses Mr. Posey tries on, we are invited into a world created by his vivid imagination and is blurred vision of the night sky, undersea life and even what is like for a cat to be pursued by a pack of wild dogs. The accompanying illustrations by Daniel Duncan are so whimsical and beautifully detailed from the overflowing trash can in the bathroom, Mr. Posey’s fancy black and white shoes, a lazy bee floating by a sunflower and the perfect overall effect of the musty thrift store that Mr. Posey and Andy go to. The book is told completely through the illustrations and you can spend hours catching every detail.

To find out that all Mr. Posey needed to do was clean his own, old, dirty glasses is a hoot. With his newly cleaned specs, Mr. Posey is able to enjoy his surroundings more, bringing a sense of mindfulness to his life. Old becomes new.

This is a wonderful picture book with just enough text and new words to excite the young reader as well as the perfect book for read aloud. I highly recommend this sweet story of friendship with an equally gratifying tale of caring for the environment (such as buying used things and using a clothesline for drying.)

The story and illustrations are winners.

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


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Mindful Book Reviews By Eve: Breath Friends Forever: A Mindfulness Story for Kids by Kids by Laurie Grossman & Ms. Moses’s 4th Grade Class

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Breath Friends Forever: A Mindfulness Story for Kids by Kids by Laurie Grossman & Ms. Moses’s 4th Grade Class. Instant Help Books/New Harbinger.

Truly one of the best things about this book, Breath Friends Forever: A Mindfulness Book for Kids by Kids, and its predecessor, Master of Mindfulness: How to Be Your Own Superhero in Times of Stress, is that it is truly for kids by kids. The voices are clear and strong and young. This simple, sweet story, illustrated with a creative collage of cartoon characters and real life photos, offers various ways to remind us to practice mindfulness whenever needed. The hand gestures, the breathing, the getting in touch with inner peace all combine to offer easy-to-follow instructions for calming down during times of big emotions. The nicely written story offers good factual data on how deep breathing affects and effects the body, mind and energy. This mid-grade book respects the curiosity and personage of the older child. The main message is that a friend is the greatest gift: both to give and to receive.

This is a fabulous authentically voiced mindfulness book for mid-grades. I highly recommend this book. It should be in homes, libraries, schools, therapist offices etc. It is not only a fun, mindful story, but it also serve an important purpose as a book for children to help bolster their self-control, inner peace and resiliency.

Eve Costarelli

Thank you to Laurie Grossman for sending me this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

For more information about accessible mindfulness/yoga/dance, please visit alwaysbedancing dot com

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