Tuesday 29 May 2018

When I’m Shining with Peace by Wendy Mason and Lisa Maravelis, illustrated by Kayleen West (Kids Light Up) PB   RRP $12.99   ISBN 780648206514

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Both Australian authors are founders of the Kids Light Up© project, a forum for educational information, which teaches resilience as its foundation. Their picture book series, When I’m Shining with Light, of which this book is a part, emphasises positive values and qualities to help children (aged three plus years) to thrive. Mason is Director of early learning at an independent school in Melbourne and Maravelis is a youth worker and counsellor. Both women are passionate about empowering children to be the best they can be.

When I’m Shining with Peace features an (unnamed) cuddly, clothed girl bear who talks about the role of peace in her life and how it affects her and her relationships with others. The book starts by referring to a ‘PEACE light’ which ‘we all have’, which, when switched on, has positive effects. It’s not stated how to ‘switch on’ the PEACE light but, the story continues, ‘When I’m shining with PEACE/ I’m still and steady.’
The story is related in rhyming text and continues to show readers ways in which inner peace is rewarding, such as having clear thinking, readiness to learn, calm breathing and so on. This allows the small reader to come to an understanding of what peace is. The book also shows the negative: when the ‘PEACE light goes out’, it makes the bear ‘scream and shout’ and want her own way.

One would assume that the child’s carer (parent or teacher, for example) would explain to the child how to create inner peace as sadly the book doesn’t do this.

While the book’s main benefit is in extolling the virtues of having peace so that one can live harmoniously, one of the stanzas is problematic. It reads: ‘When I’m shining with PEACE/ I choose to obey/Whatever you say/ I’ll do right away.’ Who is the ‘you’ to whom this stanza is addressed? One would assume the ‘you’ referred to is a parent, but it could be anyone, including a stranger. Despite this misgiving, one must admire the authors for investing their time and money into a project designed to help youngsters.

The illustrations are clear and attractive with lots of white space allowing focus on the bear character. And, too, the book is typeset in OpenDyslexic font, created to increase readability for readers with dyslexia. The font includes regular, bold, italic and bold italic styles, but it can easily be read by anyone who doesn’t have dyslexia.

There will be 10 books in the series, each of them covering a range of skills, qualities and values important for all children (and adults). The first four books dealing with Joy, Peace, Love and Kindness, were released in March 2018. All books are available through Denis Jones www.dennisjones.com.au  and www.kidslightup.com.au There are teachers notes and parents’ tips and notes available through the kidslightup site.

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