Butterflies Be Gone: Yoga Therapy for Fear and Anxiety
Loraine Rushton & Adele Vincent
Little Steps, 2023
40pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99
When Jesse wakes up with butterflies in his tummy, he feels anxious about his day. But as he begins to move his body in special yoga poses, he is able to work through different emotions. Soon his body feels better and his imagination takes off!
It’s rare for a children’s storybook to come with a disclaimer that “the authors take no responsibility for any injury or illness resulting or appearing to result from doing the yoga in this book…” but that aside, this is still one worth having because so many of our children suffer from anxiety and if following some simple exercise patterns helps alleviate that, then it’s worth trying. Giving the exercises such as lying on your back and then scrunching into a tight ball to let the butterflies out, a context so the reader is exposed to 18 different techniques that may be useful in times of stress. And even though it is called “yoga therapy”, many of them are the sorts of movements that might form part of a phys ed stretching session so they would be useful in the classroom setting when a change of routine is needed, benefitting more than just those feeling anxious. With simple illustrations of each pose offered at the end and their catchy names, children will enjoy participating in these without feeling that they are being singled out – everyone is involved but some will need them more than others.
Nevertheless, given the prevalence of anxiety – whether it’s butterflies in the tummy to a debilitating medical condition – all children (and adults) can benefit from having a few strategies on hand to release it beyond taking a few deep breaths. There really is nothing quite as magical as being so relaxed that you can hear your heart and the rhythm of love and life that it is beating.
As our little ones become more independent they not only begin to feel a variety of emotions but also begin to recognise and identify a range of them, some of which can be a bit scary if they are made to feel ashamed or guilty for expressing them. So this charming picture book (which is also a counting book) helps them understand that not only are these emotions normal, they are common and experienced by everyone so they, themselves, are no different from their siblings or their friends.
Read together with an adult, they can be encouraged to look at the illustrations to work out what the characters are doing and describe how they might be feeling, thus recognising and describing situations where they might have felt a similar feeling as well as extending their vocabulary and starting to understand cause and effect. Having the characters as animals puts the events at arm’s length so they have the choice about whether they share a similar situation or not. Such opportunities help them learn to articulate their feelings rather than throwing frustration-driven tantrums because they don’t have the words, as well as teaching them that it is OK to talk about all sorts of feelings. Not every sentence has to start with “I am happy when…”
But what sets this book apart from the many that describe and acknowledge emotions generally, is that having raised the issue that raised the emotion, it then revisits the animals to see how it was resolved. So the child learns that while having the “big feelings” is normal, they can be turned around and only last for a short time.
IMO, young children can never hear the message that they are OK, that they are normal and just like everyone else often enough and this is a book that helps underpin that.
Imagine opening a picture book and being confronted with the talons of a bird, talons that are bigger than your own hand! And then discovering that they belong to a real bird, the harpy eagle!
In this new book in this series which, this time, compares some of world’s smallest and largest deadly animals , young readers are invited to think about how they compare with these amazing creatures. And as well as discovering that many of the deadliest creatures are not necessarily the largest – the most successful predator is actually the common dragonfly – they also discover that just because something may not be deadly to humans, nevertheless it deserves its place in the book because of its impact on its own environment.
Every second double-page spread features a lifesize portion of a creature including caimans, snakes and lions, and the following spread explains why it is deadly and so effective within its own habitat. So while the Bengal slow loris releases a deadly, flesh-rotting venom to kill, it only uses it on its own kind.
Unlike Lifesize Baby Animals , which lent itself to children comparing their own size to that of the featured creatures, this one takes the reader into a different sort of investigation as they consider food chains and how species satisfy their basic need to eat. Sometimes the biggest or scariest are not always the ones to fear the most.
One of my enduring memories of my 50+ years of teaching in both classroom and library, is seeing groups of young boys, often not the best readers, poring over books like these excitedly discussing their discoveries, trying to outdo each other in the WOW stakes, and I am convinced that the provision of books like this contributes much more to their learning (and reading development) than the content presented within. For that alone, this is a series worth having and sharing (although I am glad thatLifesize Creepy Crawliesis only available as an ebook!)
Join the children in their hot air balloon as they journey through the skies to encounter all sorts of weather and learn a little more about it.
Like its predecessors Meet the Planetsand Meet the Oceans , this is one for younger readers who are just beginning to notice the phenomenon of changing weather patterns and starting to ask why it’s windy or sunny or who might be frightened by the lightning and thunder. Written in rhyme with bold illustrations, this respects the child’s intelligence by offering them the basic facts in a format that takes them on a journey of learning as well as discovery so they have a basic understanding of the science that will either satisfy their curiosity for now, or lead them to seek more information.
This is a series of non fiction titles that most definitely has a place in the school library collection as it offers information at the child’s level of understanding in a style and format that is appealing without being overwhelming. Given acknowledgement of the date and the weather forms part of the morning routine of any Kindergarten classroom, this is a great introduction that takes the learner beyond the basic observations and may even invoke a discussion about the impact of the weather on their daily lives beginning a basic understanding of cause and effect.
When Lionel goes to stay at his grandmother’s farm, his mother warns him that there will be strange night noises that he won’t have heard in the city. But the country air must have an amazing effect because when Lionel sleep-walks around the farm, none of the animals can wake him even though they all try with their loudest noise. Even following him back to his bed and sharing it with him doesn’t disturb his slumber.
Written in rhyme, this is a story that could introduce young readers to the animals they are likely to see on the farm and they can have fun mimicking the various noises, perhaps even learning the traditional song about Old MacDonald. They might also like to compare and contrast the sounds that Lionel might have heard at home by taking time to listen to the sounds of night falling where they live and what Lionel hears, thus learning to involve all their senses when they are reading. Guiding them to think about what they might see, hear, feel and smell in a particular setting helps them to orient themselves and make plausible suggestions for unknown words based on content and context rather than sounds.
So even though the animals were unable to wake up Lionel, perhaps they can spark some genuine learning in this seemingly simple tale.
There is an old saying about if someone has lost their smile to give them one of yours, but what happens if you’re the person who has lost it?
This is a bright, colourful rhyming story that encourages young children to smile their way to happiness if they are feeling unhappy by sharing smiles, thinking of things that they are grateful for, or doing something they really like. A smile is a universal language that doesn’t need words and thus it is its own superpower.
Young readers will delight in the vibrant illustrations that reflect children doing all the things they like to do, but particularly at the quokka whose cheery face is on every page. One for the mindfulness collection.
Rida and Madiya may have the same mum, but that’s about all they have in common. It’s a blended family, a common scenario for our students, and while Rida is quiet, reserved and looking forward to starting high school Madiya is an energetic and boisterous 6 year old, who has crazy ideas that she believes will be successful because she’s six and that’s how they think! They argue about everything, and when they find out the local library is in trouble, their competition over who can raise the most money only ends up making things worse between them! Working together might be the only way to save the library, but can they put their differences aside to do it?
Although it is a very readable and relatable standalone story, this is part of a reading series written for young readers beginning to read independently, but which are written by established authors whose focus is on the story rather than being phonics-based or having controlled vocabulary. The UK apparently has national Curriculum Book Bands and this fits into the Dark Red band for those 9-11 and there are more (with teaching notes) available if you are looking for some new novels for those consolidating their skills.
Thirteen-year-old Rowan is helping her older sister Ash paint her bedroom when she discovers a mysterious silver ring and when she slips it on it transports them both back in time 20 years to 1999. To a party being held in the very same house!
While Ash dances, Rowan unwittingly disrupts the laws of time, and when she wakes up back in the present day, her sister is missing, and – even worse – everyone in their family seems to have forgotten she ever existed.
With the help of her magical neighbour Verity, Rowan must find the courage to travel back through the history of the house. But can she find everything she needs to rescue Ash before her sister disappears forever?
This is one for older independent readers who enjoy time-slip novels with a fantasy twist.
Find the thing the Witches call a treasure,’ says Old Man, ‘and you’ll get back all those memories you’re missing.’
With a body made of wax, seaweed for hair and polished abalone shells for eyes, Corpse is bound to haunt the Witches’ sea shack forever. She has no memory of the kid she was before she was snatched and ended up on the rock-that-doesn’t-exist, using magic to hold herself together so she doesn’t cross over the Death Proper. Her dearest wish is to escape the rock, find her family and live. But she appears to be bound on the rock off the coast of the tiny forgotten town of Elston-Frigh forever, until the delivery of an unexpected message sets her off on a surprising quest, searching for answers to the old and familiar questions that have filled her not-brain since the day she first woke up a ghost. Questions about her name. Questions about her family. With only her eight-legged friend Simon for company, Corpse heads into the unknown. There will be danger – cruel Witches, a silver-eyed sea monster and a cunning Merchant with a hungry grin – but Corpse is not afraid. She’ll stop at nothing to uncover the truth about her past. Only some answers, it turns out, are much closer than she thinks.
Shortlisted for the ABIA Book of the Year for Younger Children (7-12 years) this is a debut novel that has a strong message about the power of family, friendship, trust and believing and trusting in yourself and what you stand for. For older, independent readers who can let reality go and cope with twists and turns in the plot, this is a new series that will captivate those who like the Nevermoor series, with a sequel The Lonely Lighthouse of Elston-Fright being released in October 2023.
For most of his short life, Banjo the woylie has stayed safe with his mum in her pouch or her nest but as he gets a little older, he ventures out at night in search of food for this little woylie likes two things above all others – mushrooms and bouncing! But there are those like foxes and feral cats who like woylies just as much and when one startles Banjo, he bounces off … only to find himself far from home and his mum with no more bounce left in him. And it seems worse is yet to come because he is tempted by the sweet smell of fresh fruit and finds himself caught in a trap!
Before Europeans settled Australia, the woylie, also known as the brush-tailed bettong was found over much of Southern Australia but now they are classified nationally as endangered and even presumed extinct in New South Wales., mostly due to predation by foxes and feral cats. So this addition to the Endangered Animal Series which focuses on our lesser-known indigenous creatures that are threatened, at the very least, and which includes Poppy, the Punk Turtle and Coco, the fish with hands and Rusty the Rainbow Bird, highlights the plight of these tiny creatures bringing their stories to younger audiences who are just beginning to understand that there is a wider world around them.
As with the others, this one also features bright, bold illustrations which catch the eye immediately and a story written in simple but accurate vocabulary which respects the young reader’s intelligence, and which is supported by fact boxes that offer more information. Perfect for those with an interest in the natural world and who are looking to find out more.
At the same time, its format is also the perfect model for older students to base a story and an investigation of another little-known creature of their own. Start by asking , “What would Aleesah Darlison and Mel Mathews have needed to know before they could begin one of these books?” An opportunity for meaningful research as well as those who prefer writing fiction and those who prefer writing non fiction and those who prefer illustrating to collaborate.