About the Holiday
Going to the zoo is a fun summertime event. This week we honor the zookeepers and aquarists who care for the nation’s zoo and aquarium animals and work to protect the species in the wild. Through research conducted at zoos and aquariums around the country, scientists learn more about how to protect animals and their environments from danger.
Zoo Zen: A Yoga Story for Kids
Written by Kristen Fischer | Illustrated by Susi Schaefer
“Lyla is ready / to try something new. / Can she learn yoga / from friends at the zoo?” In her room Lyla dresses in comfy clothes and rolls out her red yoga mat. She remembers the bear who “grabbed onto his feet” as she does the same while lifting her legs in the air. Two slithering cobras teach Lyla their moves, and from three eagles Lyla learns to stand as if ready to fly.
“Lions stalk and they prowl, / in this pride there are four. / Hands pressed to her knees, / Lyla bellows a roar.” Next come five camels who bend their knees back when they sit. Lyla kneels too and grabs onto her heels. She bends backwards while relaxing her neck and in no time “she’s got the knack.” But Lyla needs a bit of a rest. Six alligators lounging in the river show her it’s easy to relax on her tummy.
After her rest, Lyla’s ready for more. She gets an assist from seven dolphins passing by as she bends at her hips and lays her forearms flat on the mat. While they swim away, “eight gorillas screech. / Lyla folds in half, / clasps hands under feet, / and lets out a laugh.” Nine lizards gathered on a rock invite Lyla to be one of them. But what will she do for a tail? With one leg outstretched and one near her hand, she can look like a lizard sunning on land.
At the pond are ten frogs having high-jumping fun. With her legs stretched out wide and her arms as a prop, Lyla looks like those frogs as they get ready to hop. The flamingo stands steady on only one leg. It says, “Remember to breathe / use only your nose. / Inhale and exhale. / Stay calm in each pose.” With the thought to “always be present / right here and right now,” Lyla finishes her yoga with a thankful bow.
Kristen Fischer’s charming rhymes that describe the moves for each pose are sure to entice children to try yoga. Pairing the poses with familiar animals brings comfort and fun to this popular relaxation practice. With each page, the number of animals grows, making Zoo Zen a cute counting book as well. Kids will love learning ways that they can de-stress and clear their mind after or before a busy day.
Susi Schaefer’s adorable Lyla with a frothy updo of blue and black curls invites young readers to join her and some friendly zoo animals in fun yoga poses. Each move is depicted clearly in Schaefer’s colorful, textured illustrations. The animals not only demonstrate the poses but offer a little advice on placement of hands, feet, arms, and legs. The happy zoo animals and smiling Lyla are perfect friends to help introduce young readers to the benefits of yoga.
For children interested in learning yoga, Zoo Zen: A Yoga Story for Kids is sweet and gentle and would be a welcome addition to home bookshelves. Its engaging rhymes support multiple readings as kids learn the poses.
Ages 4 – 8
Sounds True, 2017 | ISBN 978-1622038916
Discover more about Kristen Fischer, her books, and her work as a freelance writer on her website!
View a gallery of artwork by Susi Schaefer on her website!
National Zookeeper Week Activity
Strike a Yoga Pose Word Search
Many yoga poses for kids are named after animals you can see at the zoo. Find the names of twenty yoga poses in this printable Strike a Yoga Pose Word Search and then try some of them! Here’s the Solution!
Picture Book Review