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Loving the Now, Loving the Present in Picturebooks for Children

Picture books on mindfulness and loving the present.

Myra here.

I’ve always been on the lookout for picturebooks that promote mindfulness. These three stories that I found do not just speak about being more attentive or mindful, they also speak of loving the present, relishing the feeling of being in the moment, and being part of this world.


La La La: A Story Of Hope

Written by: Kate DiCamillo Illustrated By: Jaime Kim
Published by: Walker Books, 2017
ISBN: 1406378003 (ISBN13: 9781406378009)Book was borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

An almost-wordless tale, this is a longer-than-usual picturebook with 72 pages (rather than the usual 32 or 40 pages). There is a pretty extensive backmatter by both author and illustrator explaining the concept behind the visual narrative.

It revolves around this girl singing with all her might just three notes: La La La, hoping that someone would hear and respond to her. As Kate DiCamillo noted:

… even if we are small and alone and afraid, if we sing, sometimes someone answers us back.

 

The illustrator, Jaime Kim, noted that he drew upon a lonely episode in childhood when he had few friends and took refuge in his own make-believe world.

While I was illustrating this story, I thought of that memory and tried to capture the relief, the overwhelming emotion, and the joy f finding the most precious friend in the world.

 

While clearly the packaging of the narrative has to do with finding a “friend” (whoever/whatever it may be in this story), having one’s voice heard, understood, and responded to –

– I also felt that there is much about the joy of being a part of the surroundings: the shine of the moon, the glistening stars, and the sparkling leaves – demonstrated almost-wilfully and defiantly by this young girl who is clearly determined to share the beauty of this world with another. If only I can reach out into the pages and sing La La La along with her, I would have. This book is a joy to hold.


Now

Written and Illustrated by: Antoinette Portis
Published by: Roaring Brook Press, 2017
ISBN: 1626721378 (ISBN13: 9781626721371)Book was borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

I’ve read so many rave reviews about this picturebook. Hence, the minute that I saw this available in our public library, I immediately borrowed it. The story begins with a carefree description of the girl’s favourite things, and no, they are not gadgets or expensive toys; rather, they are part of what makes up our world:

After the first simple description of two favourites: that of the breeze and leaf, the young girl goes on to explain why she finds something so likeable, and it is not something overly complicated or profound (see below):

It is that which she is paying attention to, in the here and now. Each full-page spread, I find to be an invitation to breathe in the clouds, to plant my feet firmly onto the ground, and to raise my face up into the skies:

I also find that there is a cheekiness and a carefree quality to the text that is beyond playful; the mischief like a secret shared between the narrator and the reader, as you can see in the image below:

If anything, this is a tribute to the tangible; an ode to the physical world that can be touched, felt, smelled, seen, tasted. This book is a powerful reminder of how beautiful a day can actually be if we only take the time to really relish and savour the moments as they happen.


Ten Tiny Things

Written by: Meg McKinlay Illustrated by: Kyle Hughes-Odgers
Published by: Chronicle Books, 2011
ISBN: 1452102244 (ISBN13: 9781452102245)Book was borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

I am a fan of Kyle Hughes-Odgers’ art, and so even without me having any idea of what this book is about, I snatched it up from the library, and immediately fell in love with it.

Tessa and Zachary are siblings who are usually driven to school by their mother in their green machine that is clean and cosy. Until one day, when it broke down, and brother and sister had to walk to school:

As can be seen in the image above, Tessa and Zachary are not totally sold on the idea. After all, they cannot imagine not being driven by their mother in their “swift and splendiferous” vehicle. While I enjoyed the art, it was Meg McKinlay’s narrative that made me really sit up and pay attention to the story; it was her choice of words such as splendiferous and the way that she allowed the story to gradually, deliciously unfurl.

As brother and sister walked to school, they began noticing things that they would have ignored or missed out on completely had they been inside their splendiferous vehicle. Hence, despite the huffing and the puffing with their super heavy bags, a red and sparkly thing caught their eye, followed by another tiny thing, this time “smooth and blue and secret.”

It was this hush-like quality of the tale, this whispered revelation of “secret somethings and hidden happenings” that thoroughly did me in. Hence, when their mother happily reported that they can use their cool, cozy, comfy vehicle yet again, I will leave it to you to discover how Tessa and Zachary responded. One thing they realized, though, in this walk to school:

How absolutely splendiferous is that! Find this book, and soak in everything around you. Be in this world.

#LitWorld2018GB Update: US (Now and La La La) and Australia (for Ten Tiny Things)

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