Mary McCaffrey (text), Grace Chen (illus.), Jelly and the Leaf, Little Steps, 1 August 2017, 32pp., $24.95 (hbk), ISBN: 9781925545517
The day has come for Jelly, the tiny bird, to learn to fly. His brothers and sisters zoom out of the nest but not Jelly. He’s too afraid. Despite his mother’s best attempts, Jelly refuses to jump. Woo the Wise Old Owl listens to Jelly’s concerns and offers some advice. Jelly learns to relax and listen to hear the solution to his dilemma. Before long he has found the confidence to take the leap.
Jelly and the Leaf is a sweet story with a lovely message about mindfulness. By connecting with nature, Woo and Jelly show the reader a simple form of meditation to use when faced with a problem or fear.
Grace Chen’s illustrations are a gentle and sweet depiction of Jelly’s struggle to do what he was born to do. Chen’s little birds display big emotions: from apprehension and fear, to joy and pride. The final pages of Jelly’s introspection are particularly endearing.
As this story demonstrates a practical method for children to overcome a fear, it would be useful as a mindfulness resource in an early years’ classroom.
Jelly and the Leaf is recommended for ages 5 to 8.
Reviewed by Fiona Miller-Stevens