By: Sandrine Marlier
Illustrated by: Leonardo Schiavina
Publisher: Belle Isle Books
Publication Date: April 4, 2023
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: June 8, 2023
A very busy ant, stressed because she has so much to do, and a cute, but lost little mouse, set the stage for teaching young readers about mindfulness and all the benefits it offers in the charming story Odette’s Alphabet.
This sweet story begins as Odette wakes up and gets ready to start her day. But something isn’t right – her heart is racing. She thinks about the other ants who are always working, and working, and working... That’s it! She’s stressed.
Odette heads out of the ant colony and as soon as the sun hits her, she feels better. Then she takes a deep breath, in and out. Slowly breathing…there, that helps. But then, she hears someone sneeze. Who could it be? Odette searches for whatever creature is hiding, and she’s surprised to find a little mouse. The mouse introduces himself as Marcus. He then tells Odette, “I'm lost, and...I’m scared.” Odette wants to help her new friend so she tells him to take a deep breath in and out. It worked for her when she was stressed, so she hopes it will help Marcus too.
After Marcus has followed Odette's advice and takes some slow, deep breaths, he begins to calm down and feel better. He then realizes that Odette looks very different from him, she is, after all, an ant. Can he trust her? He soon realizes that she is gentle and is concerned about his well-being and before long, they are good friends. A few more breathing exercises and then the new friends set off on an adventure to find the way to Marcus’ house. Along the way, Odette teaches the little mouse various breathing techniques and relaxation methods to help him feel better and find his inner peace.
Odette’s Alphabet is much more than a simple alphabet book. Each page does indeed have a letter, and a word that starts with the letter, but that’s where the similarity to typical alphabet books ends. Instead of “C is for Cat,” author Sandrine Marlier uses words that fit a mindfulness study so for “C” the reader is given “Community.” Examples of other words used are "Meditation," "Optimism," and "Smile." The letter & word is always on the left-hand page while the facing page has a bit of the traveling companions' story, and below that, a text block with a mindfulness activity that will help the reader discover how to further their own understanding of breathing, sharing, kindness, as well as other activities to help better understand themselves and others. The book is more advanced, with more text and in-depth activities, than a "typical" alphabet book, so very young readers will need help from their favorite adults to help them. But any child, regardless of age, will benefit from the wonderful mindfulness lessons in this book.
Quill says: An excellent alphabet book with a very unique twist, Odette’s Alphabet teaches mindfulness to children as it also shows them how to deal with many different emotions and stressful situations.
For more information on Odette's Alphabet, please visit the author's website at: https://www.sandrinemarlier.com/