Hello, friends! Our book today is Ahmed’s Journey: A Story Of Self-Discovery by Jill Apperson Manly, a look at mindful thinking through the eyes of a young Saudi boy.
Ahmed has traveled a great distance across the desert to compete with his family in his country’s traditional camel races. While men and older boys share tea and stories, Ahmed wanders by himself, tending the camels and attempting to calm his mounting nerves about the big race. As he observes the life of the desert around him – a mouse, a falcon, his camel Jamal, a distant brewing sandstorm – Ahmed feel turbulent and afraid. He tries to calm himself by looking inward, taking deep calm breaths, and reflecting on his emotions and fears. When he is done with this mind-and-body meditation, he begins to feel better, and more prepared for the challenges to come. He sets off to rejoin the others, his worried thoughts abated.
Interesting and unique. Children’s books about mindfulness are starting to crop up here and there as it and activities around it (such as meditation and yoga) become more mainstream. What sets this one apart is certainly the story, utilizing the unique perspective of a child from a middle-eastern culture and setting. I’ll be honest, I was afraid that these choices would have the unpleasant smack of exoticism, but I was very pleased to find that the cultural aspects of Ahmed’s story are covered with respect and restraint – if anything, his nervousness about not racing well or disappointing his family are meant to illustrate how these worries can be universal, and how taking moment to calm our bodies and minds can help us deal with them. It’s subtle and inclusive rather than exploitative, and very well done. The text itself is fitting of the topic: smooth, calming, with a relaxing rhythm. The illustrations are especially lovely, pen-and-ink art that uses thin lines and a command of negative space to suit the tone. The length was fine, and JJ enjoyed it – this was a wonderful surprise. Baby Bookworm approved!
(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by a representative of the author in exchange for an honest review.)