REVIEW OF THE MAGIC MAT BY CARMEN CLEWS
The full title of this book is The Magic Mat and its little secret . . . And this gem of a story really does have an important and not so little secret which is cleverly revealed at the end of a wonderful and fantastical journey. The Magic Mat is a special place where kids can go to be quiet, to think, or just to have fun! The story uses basic yoga poses to convey some quite important concepts. Thus the child is using his or her physical body (stretching, hopping, reaching, rolling and breathing) to learn about tools to help with emotional balance. The poses are all animal related – animal actions and sounds are cleverly interwoven with the quality that animal is trying to convey. So the animals are given certain characteristics (I love gerbils are humble, and giraffes stand up for themselves and their loved ones) which the child will then think about whilst performing the actions of that animal. The book is beautifully illustrated so that the actions can easily be copied by the child. And the animals make great sounds too! There’s nothing difficult to do; I think all children will love mimicking both the sounds and the movements of the animals. The book is aimed at children 5 to twelve years old. Each age group will absorb what they can, so there is something of value for all. I would start as early as possible, as this is not a book one reads once or twice and then puts away, but rather an enticing and interactive tale which begs to be picked up again and again. I think each time a little more of the messages will be absorbed by young minds, and this is what’s so clever about this story. It grows with you.
The book is accompanied by a DVD which is a lovely and simple animated depiction of the book and read by the voice of a child … adults and children alike will love it. It’s only twenty minutes long which I think is a highly suitable length – even in our busy lives, finding a twenty minute gap to devote to an activity is manageable. Great fun to do together with your child or children.
I highly recommend this book to any parents who are on the lookout for unique ways to help their children develop a strong sense of self – this book conveys invaluable lessons in a meaningful and playful way. So step inside the Magic Mat, and feel the magic come alive!
By Janet Neilson