Shiny Things with Jasper, Smiling Hearts with Lisa & Ted

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Jasper and the Magpie
Dan Mayfield, illustrated by Alex Merry
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Like many on the autism spectrum, young Jasper has a special passion, a passion for shiny metals in his case. He reads up about them and collects all manner of shiny things, sometimes going to great lengths to get his hands on something that’s caught his eye. His parents worry about the safety of their son but even more about the fact that his passion stops him making friends and even try to curb his collecting ‘obsession’. Jasper’s response causes them to have a rethink

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and so when his birthday arrives, Jasper is in for a surprise; maybe more than one surprise. First he learns from his grans that everyone, parents included, want him to be happy. Second, he receives a wonderful present wrapped in shiny paper containing all manner of shiny items and other interesting objects, showing that his mum and dad have come to accept his unconventional collecting habit and offering a novel way to share his souvenirs – a shiny magpie collage.

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Smiles all round, the biggest belonging to Jasper, collector and collage creator extraordinaire.
Essentially, this story about accepting and celebrating all individuals for their unique qualities is aimed at primary age children. Despite its, in places rather creaky, rhyming text, it’s a book that should be shared in all schools whether or not there are pupils with autism. Alex Merry’s slightly offbeat watercolour illustrations reflect Jasper’s feeling sensitively and with gentle humour.
Buy from the publisher:‎

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Smiling Heart Meditations with Lisa & Ted (and Bingo)
Lisa Spillane
Singing Dragon
Qigong is an ancient Chinese health care system that integrates breathing techniques, physical postures and focused intention. The practice of Qigong typically involves moving meditation, coordinating slow flowing movement, deep rhythmic breathing, and a meditative state of mind. The aim is to restore calm to both the body and the mind.
In her first book Six Healing Sounds with Lisa and Ted, the author who practices Qigong herself, showed young children how simple breathing exercises combined with sounds can help them to turn their negative feelings into positive ones.
Also with that aim, in this amusingly illustrated follow-up book, the same child characters and their canine pal, Bingo head off for a day on the beach. The children find that even there they can feel annoyed, upset or impatient.

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Narrator, Bingo steps in explaining simply to readers how both brother and sister use meditation techniques to help restore their equilibrium. He also has a special trick of his own to demonstrate.
Story is an effective and enjoyable means of introducing the techniques to young children and although not familiar with the practices herein, I use a similar narrative method when teaching yoga to young children and know it works very well.
There is a helpful introductory spread aimed at adults in which Lisa Spillane provides a succinct explanation of Smiling Heart Meditations and why they work.
Use your local bookshop:


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