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The Happiest Tree
A Yoga Story
by Uma Krishnaswami
Lee & Low Books, 2006
(Ages 4 - 8)
Review by Maithreyi Ramabadran
Meena is embarassed by her clumsiness - she frequently trips and knocks things over. When her class in school puts on a play Meena does not want to participate, afraid of embarassing herself even more. Then, Meena joins a yoga class at the insistence of kindly Mrs. Vohra, and slowly learns to control her arms and legs. She learns that true stillness comes from within, and with that awareness, she is able to perform well at the school play.
This gentle story teaches about Yoga in a unobtrusive manner, while keeping the story very realistic. Meena is just an ordinary girl, and the Indian part of her life is presented very naturally, without
fuss. Hindi words sprinkled through the story don't seem out of place, as my daughter, who is also addressed as "Rani" is very fond of pointing out. (Just like Me! just like Me!)
Ruth Jeyaveeran's illustrations are beautiful, her depictions Meena's multicultural life make the story come alive.
My children love this book and it has become a favourite bedtime book for us.
Book Description: Meena is excited about the class play, a new and improved version of Red Riding Hood. But when she learns that she must play one of the trees in the forest, Meena's excitement vanishes. She is just too clumsy to be a quiet, steady tree.
One day at the Indian grocery store, Meena sees a yoga class in progress, and the store owner convinces her to try the children's class. Little does Meena know she is about to find a way to grow from the inside out, just like a tree, and move beyond her feelings of clumsiness and frustration.
The Happiest Tree is a gentle and empowering story of a young girl's road to self-confidence. It is sure to spark interest in yoga, and provide comfort to all children as they struggle to overcome the everyday obstacles to growing up.
Illustrated by Ruth Jeyaveeran
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