Imagine Eating Lemons / Sometimes I’m a Baby Bear Sometimes I’m a Snail

Imagine Eating Lemons
Jason Rhodes and Richard Dearing

In recent years there has been increased concern about the mental well-being of youngsters and what can be done to help reduce their anxieties. As a yoga teacher I know well how mindfulness techniques can have a positive effect on both mental and physical health, so with this in mind it’s time to introduce Chester Chestnut.

In his decidedly mucky dungarees, cheerful little chap Chester Chestnut stands at the ready to guide young children through an introduction to mindfulness. He’s a character they’ll find easy to relate to and now he’s starting school – the only one doing so – he’s feeling anxious. Supposing he’s too shy to play and so won’t make any friends? Following a tumble, Chester picks himself up sits down and begins to breathe slowly and deeply, focussing on the various feelings as he scans his body, and paying attention to the sounds he can hear. 

‘Imagine eating lemons and your mouth will think it’s real.” Now he feels much calmer, he can think about lots of positive and playful ideas.

The weeks pass; a new worry arises as he plays with his friends. Suppose when he’s participating in that talent show something goes wrong? Time to remember those calming techniques Chester. In his rhythmic, rhyming text, Jason Rhodes now describes the sounds of the trees, the bees and the birdsong and gives a reminder about those lemons,

so that in addition to Chester, readers/listeners will know what to do to conquer those fears, and why to do it, then and throughout the rest of the story. Richard Dearing’s illustrations give the story a slightly whimsical feel almost as though it’s set in a world of faerie.

The final page gives half a dozen things to remember about feelings and the practice of mindfulness. You try imagining eating a lemon and see what happens.

A book that is well worth having for home and school use.

Sometimes I’m a Baby Bear, Sometimes I’m a Snail
Moira Butterfield and Gwen Millward
Welbeck Editions

Embracing an entire gamut of childhood emotions, author Moira Butterfield uses different animals to explore and help little ones understand their feelings.

Whether it’s a bouncy puppy full of fun and wanting to play with others; a snail inside its shell ‘I’d rather be quiet and on my own. / I’m fine playing games alone.’ (I love that);

or perhaps a hug-loving baby bear, or no-hug bird, a blowfish blowing kisses instead of giving hugs; even a fearless lion expressing itself through a roar, it’s absolutely fine,

as are those scared, tiny mouse feelings about trying something tricky.

We all experience different emotions at times and it’s perfectly OK to feel that way: you can turn down a hug till another day, or feel happy in some solo play, as might some of your friends or siblings, so assures Moira in her appealing rhyming narrative. All these feelings are illustrated in Gwen Millward’s brightly coloured, equally appealing art showing the humans and animals with similar expressions and body language.

There’s a final spread giving advice to adults suggesting ways to use the book and providing helpful information about teaching children to identify, name and understand their feelings. This book developed with the support of a child psychologist is one to use in the foundation stage and with little ones at home.

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