Calm Monsters, Kind Monsters: A Sesame Street Guide to Mindfulness

Lerner. Oct. 2020. 32p. Tr $27.99. ISBN 9781541590007; pap. $8.99. ISBN 9781728413754.
K-Gr 2–Kenney provides a simple, friendly introduction to the practice of mindfulness. The opening editors’ note promises to show “easy ways to grow calmer, kinder, and more mindful,” which is far more likely to resonate with adults than young children. However, preschoolers will easily identify with the brief, two-part scenarios demonstrating these ideas. Familiar Sesame Street characters and children engage with troublesome feelings of frustration, sadness, loneliness, embarrassment, and worry. For instance, Telly Monster “is worried about the first day of music class.” First, he breathes, and then “he focuses all of his attention on a fun triangle.” Once the spotlighted character responds to the dilemma, readers are invited to be mindful. “You try! Look at something you really like. Breathe slowly and focus on that one thing.” Photos depict children who follow the instructions; the images include youngsters and adults who are BIPOC. Adults will find that this useful compendium offers realistic situations and simple advice for talking with children about feelings. Those conversations and the suggested approaches might not spur quick change in kids who are prone to tantrums or other behavior issues. The text seems to imply they are the monsters: “Being a mindful monster is easy. And mindful monsters are happy monsters.” The book ends with advice to “stop and smell the flowers.” A short glossary, a bibliography, and an invitation to download a free Sesame Street app on breathing and thinking are included.
VERDICT Platitudes abound in this title, but the text is carefully constructed, appealing, and practical.

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