Tag Archives: children’s books

Book Review: Jadyn and The Magic Bubble Series ~ Teaching Awareness without Preaching it

It’s been a while since my girls have wanted to read the same book every night.  Now that they’re 4 and 7 they generally like to mix things up.  However, since we started reading Brigitte Benchimol’s award winning series of socially conscious and truly magical books, that’s changed.

Beginning with Jadyn and the Magic Bubble: Discovering India,  the reader travels to New Delhi and the Taj Mahal via their imagination and all of their senses.  This thoroughly researched book is anything but whimsical.  It is deeply educational and fascinating.  Not only have my children learned history and geography of India, but also how silk is made and about the daily hustle and bustle of city life there.

Always looking for ways to aid my children in becoming more socially aware, I am thrilled with Brigitte’s like-minded ideas, and even more so with her approach.  Discovering India manages to discuss poverty and Jadyn’s disconcerted reaction to it without telling them how to feel or think on the topic.  It is written as a gateway to discussion and meditation on the subject and for my family it has been an excellent tool.  I feel that it is never too early to start your kids on the path of having empathy for others and these books provide a great gateway.

The topic of the book’s sequel, I Met Ghandi is pretty self explanatory.  It is a history lesson that is anything but dull.  Benchimol turns learning and meditation into an adventure.  I personally picked up some new knowledge from this series and I appreciate that my children and I all are left pondering at the end of each title.  The author created this series with the goal of “empowering children to open their minds and expand their own potential”.  Worthy target, and I believe she hits the mark.

Kenya! Kenya! takes empathy to a different level.  Hosted by a talking giraffe, Jadyn gracefully learns about boundaries from an animal’s perspective.  The giraffe explains why hunting and poaching are major issues, but also addresses the way people tend to approach animals.  Kenya, Kenya provides food for thought – animals deserve personal space too!  We should be careful not to frighten or overwhelm them.

Not only are these books a journey of consciousness, but they are a safari for the senses as well!  Discovering India includes recipes, a patch of silk to feel, and a cd.  Also just released is an awesomely interactive iPad app based on Kenya! Kenya!   With coloring pages, Record your own voice and many other fabulous features – $5.99 for iPad owners Only.

I had the pleasure of meeting Brigitte Benchimol after learning that she lived locally to me.  Not only did I have the opportunity to interview her, but I gratefully had the chance to befriend her.  Brigitte has years of experience working with children, from teacher to pre-school owner/ director, she has made a wealth of observations that enable her to write in a way that appeals to all age levels.  She believes in not dumbing it down, finding the “parameters of vocabulary and word count condescending”.  Children will learn through context and questions.  I agree.

In addition to teaching compassion to children, Brigitte also teaches adults.  She conducts Peace Workshops in the Los Angeles area, utilizing her training in The Way of Council.    The council “fosters compassion, empathy, non-judgmental listening, kindness, understanding of self and others, reflection, social responsibility, feelings, depth, and purpose.  I’d be hard pressed to find anyone who couldn’t use a refresher in at least one of these areas.  For information on Brigitte’s workshops, please email her at bbenchy@mindspring.com.


The inspiring Jadyn series is available for purchase right here at the Village!  Brigitte has even offered signed copies to our readers!  Simply send an email to julie@takesavillage.net, including which books you’d like to purchase, and your email address or phone number.  These books are a journey worth taking.

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Move Over Hello Kitty, There’s Some One Cuter! Yumi & Aoki ~ Book Review

Beloved Chronicle Books brings another adorable yet educational collection to the kid crowd!

Meet Yumi and Aoki, characters in Annalore Parot’s Kokeshi series.  These adorable dolls give young readers a colorful and cultural tour of modern day Japan.

Aoki and Yumi are two separate books, each presenting an adventure for its title character.  Aoki travels via high speed rail to visit her friend in Tokyo while Yumi attends a costume party with friends.  Both are innovative and adorable, featuring extraordinary die-cuts and tons of flaps to lift, revealing enough tiny details to keep a child riveted for many repeat reads.

The target age for this pair is 4-8. My four year old has been using hers as a portable dollhouse, toting Aoki around and interacting with the characters and props, such as the bento boxes which open to reveal sushi and green tea cake accompanied by fruit and some floral green tea.

The books are inspired by historic wooden Japanese Kokeshi dolls.  Rumor (Wikipedia) has it that these dolls” were originally made during the middle of the Edo period (1600–1868) to be sold to people who were visiting the hot springs in the north-east of the country.”

Annalore Parot is a designer and illustrator living in France. Her adorable creations seem destined to become a trend with the kid crowd.  They’re cute enough to draw them in and detailed enough to hold their interest.

I’m looking forward to checking out Parot’s other title in this group, Kimonos, as well as the accompanying journal and note cards.  I know something my daughter will be getting for her birthday this year!

Annalore Parot’s Kokeshi books are available directly through Chronicle Books or through Amazon, via the link to the right.

Special thanks to Chronicle Books for the advance copies for my review!
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Childrens Books We Love

I wanted to share some of the favorite Children’s Books my daughter and I read this year.

If you haven’t read Good Night Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann yet, don’t walk- but run to your nearest library to pick up a copy. This book is, simply stated- cute overload. A great pick for kids of all ages (and I do mean ALL ages) Good Night Gorilla tells the story of a mischievous little gorilla that is determined to snuggle.

Me Jane by Patrick McDonnell the creator of the daily comic strip Mutts, is a book that completely melts my heart. Without giving to much away, this is a book I guarantee you will want for your personal collection. A tale to cherish for years to come, beautifully illustrated and poetically told, Me Jane is HANDS DOWN one of my favorite children’s books of all time.

Simple, silly, fun. Kevin Sherry‘s I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean is awesome.

Wave by Suzy Lee is a beautiful piece of art. This book has no words but it tells a great story of a small girl and her adventures in the big ocean waves. A gorgeous book!

 Karma Wilson’s Hilda Must be Dancing is a feel great book that the whole family will enjoy. A very large hippo causes the earth to move when her love of dancing gets in the way of the peace and quiet of her animal friends. Think this is going to stop Hilda from dancing? Think again!

Other great books:

Eric Carle- most famous for A Very Hungry Caterpillar, has done it again with From Head to Toe. This book is good for younger kids learning to imitate animals and follow instructions. The book asks, “Can you do it?” Yes you can.

1001 Things to Spot in the Sea by Katie Daynes is great for older kids. This book will keep them busy for hours searching for the many wonderful things you can find in the sea!



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