Good Morning, Sunshine! (A Story of Mindfulness)
By Trina Markusson, illustrated by James Hearne
Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing
$15.95 ISBN 9-781927-756775
There's much talk these days about mindfulness, and truth be told, this reviewer has signed up for a class on that very topic. I'm also starting to hear that mindfulness, or "living in the moment," is being taught in some schools, and I can only imagine how much this will benefit students who adopt the practice into their daily lives.
Perhaps you remember some of the worries you had as a child, or you recall how stressful teenage years can be. Maybe you have a son or daughter who is fearful or anxious, and you don't know how to help them. Let me introduce you to Good Morning, Sunshine! (A Story of Mindfulness), a gently-told (and sweetly-illustrated) children's book by Regina teacher, speaker, and writer, Trina Markusson.
Drawing from her youngest son's experience, as well as her own, Markusson, has penned a sensitive story about Zachary, a boy old enough to play football but young enough to enjoy the company of a teddy bear, that demonstrates how hanging on to the past or worrying about the future prevents us from enjoying the present, and can even manifest in physical ailments. Speaking of the "what ifs" (future thoughts) her son is experiencing— doing poorly on a spelling test, public speaking in class, missing his bus — his mother says, "Most of the time, the what ifs never come true, but we spend so much time worrying and it makes our bodies worry, too! We might get a tummy ache, feel panicky or even make our hearts beat faster."
Fortunately, the family keeps a shoebox with mindfulness tools (six simply illustrated cards that symbolize keys to practicing mindfulness) on hand to help Zachary focus. As the worrying boy goes through each of the cards, he practices the steps. When he draws the Five Senses card, he feels his pillow, listens to the chirping birds and smells "the coffee Dad was making in the kitchen." The Gratitude card reminds him to name three things he's grateful for, including his brothers and "the blue sky day!"
The book ends with an encouraging note to caregivers and teachers about the benefits of practising mindfulness, and encourages these adults to "model the use of these tools," as children learn most through observation. Child-geared language — "His eyebrows squinched together" and "His tummy flippity-flopped"— help keep the message fun, and the repetition of the phrase "Everything was all right in this moment" helps underscore the story's upbeat message.
Calgary illustrator James Hearne has created a series of colourful and darling images for the story. The little bear appears on each illustrated page, and his expressions match the child's. And even big people will appreciate the six, punch-out cards at the back of the book, to help keep us peacefully present.
This book would fit well into the library of any child, and any adult who cares about a child's lifelong well-being and happiness — parents and grandparents, counsellors, teachers and others. For more information about the author, see www.presentmomentliving.ca.
This book is available at your local bookstore or from www.skbooks.com.