Ollie’s Treasure (Lynn Jenkins, illus by Kirrili Lonergan, EK Books)
Here’s a picture book that unpacks mindfulness and the awareness of transient moments in time. Ollie’s grandma knows he loves treasure hunts so she sends him a map. He enthusiastically performs each of the requests (‘Skip to the tree with the biggest green leaves… find the brightest yellow rose and smell its perfume…’) only to be disappointed when the hunt concludes, not with a toy but a cardboard note. On one side is a smiley face, on the other a reminder that Ollie did numerous things by himself, ending with the pointed question: ‘How did you feel?’ The subheading of this picture book is the rather chirpy ‘Happiness is easy to find if you just know where to look!’ and when Ollie reflects on the sensory pleasures of ticklish grass and delicious strawberries, he does indeed learn that he has the capacity to make himself happy; that he is the treasure if he looks within himself. The book offers gentle encouragement about being grateful about the little things in life, particularly of the natural environment and one’s own abilities to enjoy it instead of pining after material goods. Author and clinical psychologist Lynn Jenkins is savvy about the tools for engaging the social and emotional development of children, and Kirrili Lonergan’s illustrations are vibrant and energetic, depicting Ollie (a mouse) in constant action.
Thuy On is a freelance arts journalist and reviewer and the books editor of the Big Issue