Marvin is a young gorilla living in New York City, and he’s different from other gorillas. He’s calm, observant, and pays close attention to everything in his world. His grandpa prefers doing typical gorilla things, like scarfing down bananas and going “thump thump roar!” like his grandpa, who once famously climbed to the top of the Empire State Building. Marvin goes on adventures with his grandpa around the city, trying to get him to truly see the sights, move patiently through the crowds, really taste his bananas, and really hear the symphony concert they go to. Grandpa is not very mindful, but will his grandson, whom he calls “King Calm,” get through to him?
Mindfulness is so important for kids in this day and age, many of whom are being raised in a world of instant gratification, abundance of everything, and constant stimulation coming from screens. Marvin and Grandpa’s mindfulness journey is a well-told example of how to exist in the moment, observe your surroundings, and stay calm instead of just looking for the next distraction.
The examples in the book are easy for children to understand, and they represent things that kids can do themselves: eat slowly and with intention, look closely at art in museums, and use your senses to notice little things about the world around you. The lovely watercolor illustrations by Bryan Langdo enhance the story, giving it a feeling of calm, but also including details in the background, like characters staring at their cell phones or looking rushed, in contrast to Marvin’s tranquility.
There is a section in the back of the book explaining more about mindfulness, what its benefits are, and how to practice it in your own life. This is useful to read for both the elementary school-aged audience for the book, and their parents and teachers, who may need mindfulness in their own life even more than their kids. Like many of Magination Press’s books, King Calm is a fantastic primer for emotional health, written by people who know whereof they speak, and told in an accessible way for children.
Whitney Morton Woodcock is an artist, graphic designer, and a
maybe-someday children’s book illustrator. She has a BFA in
Illustration from the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota,
Florida, and currently resides in Tucson, Arizona with her husband
Brian and a few human and dog children. When she’s not reading (which takes up a lot of time!), she also enjoys cooking, yoga, painting
anything that stands still long enough, and planning vacations she
usually doesn’t end up taking. Her artwork can be found at WhitneyMorton.com and her pet portraiture business is at MaxfieldAndMadison.com.
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