A Beautiful Invitation
Written as a series of tanka, five-line Japanese poems related to haiku, and illustrated with rich, natural imagery, this book is both a description of and an invitation to mindfulness. Coombs’ poems are child-centered and accessible and Laitinen’s decorative style, reminiscent of Sophie Blackall, is somehow both nostalgic and contemporary.
Coombs’ language is steeped in natural metaphors (“thoughts dart and flutter like birds”) and Laitinen’s illustrations situate the characters within a bucolic landscape. To be mindful, it is clear, is to be connected to nature. This strong association made me wonder what mindfulness would look like in an urban or suburban context. Would children far away from a creek’s bank or a dense, quiet forest see resonate with this book? I would love for Coombs or someone else to write another version of this and set it in a location where mindfulness may look a bit different than it does here.
I could see this book working well in a number of circumstances: during transitions in a classroom; as an option for a child who is learning to self-regulate; as a daily practice upon returning home from school. The poems can stand on their own, but they are short enough that the whole book could be read in one sitting. I certainly recommend it to anyone—child or adult alike—who could use a reminder to pause and live into the present moment.
references to nature
good introduction to mindfulness