Peace of mind has many expressions: serenity, trust, composure, equanimity, nonviolence. One of its strongest marks is freedom from worry and anxiety.
That's where author Rebecca Gardyn Levington's and artist Mariona Cabassa's new book shines. Working together with a diversity and inclusion consultant, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, and a child development specialist, they've designed a reassuring guide that helps children ages four through nine trust their ability to handle whatever lies ahead.
What may come could be unpredictably delightful or tough to handle, so the book pairs pleasure and pain: loneliness with laughter, new hellos and difficult goodbyes, scary changes and ones which "bring chances to embrace your truest you." With a Dr. Seussian flow, it acknowledges feelings while conveying confidence:
"Tomorrow may bring anything —
you have no way to know
"and sometimes that uncertainty
gives worries room to grow.
"They sprout and bloom, consume your mind.
You want to run and hide.
"But you've confronted fear before
and reached the other side."
Cabassa's illustrations deserve a special shout-out. She uses water-based paints, pencils, and a digital touch to create rich, buoyant pictures that convey in both realistic and abstract ways how children and all of us can overcome challenges. "I wanted to include a lot of diversity and variety in all senses," she writes, "through the characters, the shapes, the palette, the landscapes, so that — just like life — this book would have lots of movement and feel like a dance."
In Levington's Author's Note, she shares her own encounters with worry and helps children feel less alone by reminding them that "everyone feels anxious and has 'butterflies' sometimes." The book closes with tips for managing worries, written by Child Development Specialist Stefanie Paige Wieder.