The Happiest Tree
By Coop. Children's Book Ctr
(Cooperative Children’s Book Center) Meena loves working on her school play â€“ a version of Little Red Riding Hood in which Grandma chases the wolf. But when it comes time to choosing roles, she doesn’t want any part of it. Self-conscious about her clumsiness, Meena can’t imagine getting up in front of everyone only to trip and embarrass herself. Her teacher encourages her to be a tree, but standing still proves harder than it looks. A children’s yoga class at the Indian grocery her family frequents gives Meena the chance to learn skills that help her quiet her mind and still her body. Don’t be deterred by this book’s didactic subtitle. Author Uma Krishnaswami has written a child-centered story that integrates the yoga elements of the plot naturally into the narrative. The things Meena is learning don’t come easily â€“ she often struggles in yoga class, and still gets her limbs in a tangle, right up to the moments before the class play begins. But as the curtain rises, she remembers to breathe deeply and slowly, and vows to “grow her own yoga tree roots, right into the floor of the forest.” Ruth Jeyaveeran’s colorful acrylic illustrations are a perfect accompaniment to this story, which features a girl of Indian descent. Meena’s anxieties will be recognizable to many children. Likewise, her developing interest in yoga is one that will resonate with many children and families today.