The Happiest Tree

By School Library Journal

Meena, an American girl of East Indian descent, constantly stumbles, trips, and knocks things over, causing herself terrible humiliation. As her class prepares to put on a play, she cringes. She doesn’t want to participate, fearful that she will embarrass herself in front of a large audience. While shopping at the Indian grocer with her mother, she notices a yoga class in session at the back of the store. The shopkeeper, “Auntie,” encourages the girl to sign up for a new children’s class, and Meena hesitantly agrees. At first she is extremely awkward, but with encouragement from Auntie and practice, Meena learns to breathe more deeply and move more carefully. She survives the school play without calamity and all is well. Jeyaveeran’s folksy, acrylic paintings, done in warm tones, depict children of many ethnicities. The story presents the ubiquitous problem of clumsiness with warmth and veracity. Meena’s difficulties are not overcome quickly and yoga is introduced in a nonintrusive way. Krishnaswami occasionally dabs the text with Hindi words and expressions, adding a delightful Indian flavor. An excellent addition to any collection.