Get in touch with your "inner elephant" through this awesome yoga storybook starring Babar! The popular elephant and his family are teaching us all the best yoga positions, including the Salutation to the Sun, the Proud Warrior, and the Plough. As Babar says, "everybody practices yoga in Celesteville," and as long as the sun is out, they don't hesitate to relax outside, wherever they are ("Downward-Facing Dog in front of the Louvre Museum," for example). A marvelous book for any reader interested in feeling calmer and more clear-headed, Babar's Yoga for Elephants will have budding yogis trumpeting "Namaste!" in no time.
Celebrity yoga has become its own industry, generating magazine covers, fashion lines, and now books. Christy Turlington, the limber supermodel and yoga-clothing designer, ambitiously combines memoir, historical survey, and instruction manual in Living Yoga. "I discovered that I could be graceful and agile and could hold my balance in challenging poses, both as a model and as a yogi," she writes. Two of Turlington's instructors, Sharon Gannon and David Life, showcase their own form in The Art of Yoga, in which philosophical aphorisms accompany glossy black-and-white photographs of seemingly impossible positions: in Dwi Pada Sirsasana, Life balances on his hands, hovering inches off the floor with ankles crossed neatly behind his head.
Mariel Hemingway doesn't claim great feats of contortion in her memoir, Finding My Balance, but she credits yoga with sorting out her turbulent life. The suicide of her famous grandfather looms large, along with her mother's cancer, one sister's mental illness, the other's addiction, and Hemingway's own obsessive-compulsive behaviors. She writes, "I no longer feel a helpless victim of my family's strange interactions and flawed genetic pool."
Even nonhuman celebrities have joined the act, albeit with less emphasis on spiritual redemption. Laurent de Brunhoff's Babar's Yoga for Elephants traces yoga back to prehistoric elephants (who, contrary to human custom, practiced with shoes on). The elephant king and his queen, Celeste, travel the world mimicking man-made structures with their asanas: "The Golden Gate Bridge? Two elephants doing the Cobra."
Childhood fans of Jean de Brunhoff's Babar the Elephant stories and yoga practitioners will find a happy confluence in Babar's Yoga for Elephants by his son, Laurent de Brunhoff. Author of a number of previous books that continue Babar's adventures, de Brunhoff's passion for yoga practice is infectious as he draws Babar starting his day with the Salutation to the Sun (with complete step-by-step instructions and the pachyderm demonstrating each position) and other stretches and breathing exercises. Humorous touches make the most of the elephant's anatomy ("I find wrapping my trunk around my feet helps to stretch"), and a series of pages show Babar and friends emulating landmarks while practicing various positions (e.g., a Downward-Facing Dog in front of I.M. Pei's pyramid at the Louvre). A poster of the pachyderm pulls out of the inside back cover.
Gr 2-4-Babar confides that even elephants experience stress in their day-to-day living, and a little yoga, it seems, goes a long way in providing comfort and relaxation. In fact, the book starts out by revealing that little clay cylinders found in a cave near Celesteville prove that elephants invented yoga. This find was authenticated at the National Library, where elephants, together with human yoga experts, "discovered that all of the poses depicted on the seals are still practiced today." Spreads feature instructional text on one side, with Babar illustrating the poses on the other. After introducing yoga to Celesteville, Babar and Celeste go on a worldwide jaunt where they practice their favorite yoga positions in front of famous landmarks. The Proud Warrior is demonstrated in front of the Eiffel Tower, the Bridge is practiced in front of the Half Dome in Yosemite, and, because "the traffic in Times Square is terrible," the Lotus position returns Babar's and Celeste's minds to Celesteville. While the art style is reminiscent of the original books, the colors are far more subdued. A note at the end reminds children that "this book is intended for elephants interested in yoga," and that "humans and other animals should consult books written specifically with them in mind." The book includes a large, removable poster. Babar's Yoga would be useful for larger collections needing information on the subject.-Lisa Gangemi Kropp, Middle Country Public Library, Centereach, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.