4 out of 4 stars
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How do you find peace? Is it in your morning coffee? Cuddling your partner at the end of the day? Admiring the perfect ball-shape that your cat curls herself into for a nap? Author Julie Penshorn, MBC, thinks this is an essential question. She believes that finding peace is a skill that can and that should be taught. To that end, she has written and published I Can See Peace for kids ages four through nine. The book is a part of her Smart Tools for Life series, co-created with content editor Rebecca Janke, M. Ed. Its colorful illustrations are provided by Jeanine-Jonee Keith.
I Can See Peace opens with an unidentified narrator telling the reader where they can “see peace”—on the beach, on the basketball court, among animals, and even in the rain. Images of diverse children playing illustrate where and how peace can be found. Any or all of these children could be the narrator, giving readers of different backgrounds and ability levels a chance to see themselves in the book. As the story continues, the narrator also recounts how peace can be disrupted as well as how it can be restored.
Peace’s final pages are for adults only, providing techniques for helping a child apply the book’s lessons to their own life and practice self-calming skills. They include a song parents and children can sing about finding peace in oneself, discussion questions, and games for the whole family. This detailed supplemental material makes the book exceedingly high in value and likely to support real-world learning. Parents, caregivers, and teachers will be able to return to this one again and again, with new questions and activities to deepen learning each time.
The book is also professionally edited with no identifiable grammar or spelling errors. I did find a single instance of poor formatting, but this may be my own subjective assessment. I also believe Peace would benefit from page numbers. (My digital copy did not have them.) Furthermore, I would have appreciated the book defining the term "peace"—but even this can be a discussion question for families!
I give I Can See Peace 4 out of 4 stars. It teaches an essential lesson, one underdressed in children’s literature. Children will be able to understand, relate to, and enjoy it. They will also like its rich and vivid pictures. The only argument I can think of for a lower rating might be that the book does not have great literary merit. This is not The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, for example, in its rhyme scheme or wordplay. Not all of the rhymes in the book are perfectly true rhymes, either—for example, "all around me” is rhymed with “in the trees." But such a critique misses the point of the Peace, which succeeds in its mission of fostering learning about managing emotions in an engaging and age-appropriate way. Given its considerable strengths and professional presentation, a four-star rating is appropriate.
I believe helping children develop resilience is vital. Most children experience stress and anxiety in their lives. The ability to cope effectively can impact learning ability and social success in childhood, not to mention life satisfaction and professional success in adulthood. It also significantly affects health outcomes throughout the lifespan. Parents, caregivers, teachers, and mental health professionals who share my belief will enjoy this book.
Readers who think the concept of finding peace is hokey may roll their eyes at this one. The word “peace” can have connotations some may dismiss as “hippie-dippy.” (Such readers may be soothed by substituting the word “peace” with “calm.”) Nevertheless, I believe I Can See Peace is for everyone except the Grinchiest of readers. The world is chaotic; who doesn't want to find a little calm within its storms?
I Can See Peace
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