These days, mindfulness is all the rage for adults and children alike. In a world of technological and sensory overload and busyness, we can often lose sight of what we are thinking and feeling in the present. The Magic Moment offers the youngest of readers a simple mindfulness technique that aims to help them navigate their emotions in times of fear and sadness.
The main character in The Magic Moment is Freddie, a young boy, who is super-keen to go swimming in a real pool for the first time – so keen in fact that he is ready to go before Mum and Dad are out of bed, although endearingly illustrator Sheena Dempsey chooses to show him with swimmers and armbands over his PJs! Alas, Freddie’s keenness dissipates as soon as he reaches the noisy changing room at the pool:
‘Suddenly, Freddie’s tummy felt a bit funny.’
He doesn’t end up going swimming that day. It is not until his nana explains the ‘magic moment trick’ to him that Freddie feels ready to venture back to the pool. The trick combines the power of positive memories with a simple finger-thumb squeeze and a catchy little rhyme. And it works! I particularly like that the trick is something any child can use to manage negative feelings. Indeed, I hope many young readers will see something of themselves in Freddie and realise that they are not alone in what they are experiencing. I hope that they will celebrate with him as he overcomes his anxiety at the pool and be inspired to give his magic moment trick a go.
Magic moment aside, I really appreciated the portrayal of the different characters and the warm interactions between them in this story, both in the text and in the illustrations. Freddie is very much an ordinary kid, bursting with energy and excitement at the prospect of trying something new. But he is also shown – very naturally and openly – to struggle with his fears. Dad does not criticise or pressurise his young son when he refuses to enter the swimming pool. On the contrary, he speaks gently to Freddie to reassure him, and they walk home hand in hand. And Nana of course is instrumental in helping Freddie work through his emotions! I may have made a few notes as a parent here . . .
The Magic Moment is a very valuable book for helping young children acknowledge and deal with negative feelings, such as fear and sadness.
The Magic Moment by Niall Breslin, illustrated by Sheena Dempsey (Gill Books, 2018).
Niall ‘Bressie’ Breslin is a musician, producer and former professional rugby player. He is currently studying for an MSc in Mindfulness-Based Interventions at University College Dublin. His first book Me and My Mate Jeffrey about his struggles with generalised anxiety disorder won the 2015 Irish Book Award for popular non-fiction. The Magic Moment is his first book for children.
Sheena Dempsey is an Irish children’s author/illustrator based in Kent, UK. She has illustrated a number of children’s books and has twice been awarded a literary bursary award by the Arts Council of Ireland.