Monday, July 10, 2017

Breath for Jumping Courage!

Picture Book: Jabari Jumps
Author & Illustrator: Gaia Cornwall
Summary: It's summer and the Jabari is a self-confessed "great jumper." After situating his suit and goggles, Jabari is determined to jump off the diving board this year. 
 His dad is surprised. 
After swim lessons and a test, Jabari says he isn't afraid. 
He watches the jumpers from the sidelines, noticing their techniques, and declares that it "looks easy," but Dad's hand feels awfully good. 
The ladder is a bit daunting,
and the crowd is more ready than he. Jabari urges them to go ahead of him so he can practice his special jump. 
When Jabari stalls half-way up the ladder, his dad asks if he's ok. Jabari says he just needs a rest. Dad urges him to come on down. Jabari does.
 Then Jabari remembers his stretches - very important! 
When Jabari suggests that tomorrow might be a better day, his father confesses that he too is afraid sometimes. 
That's when Jabari breathes deeply and does some self-talk: "I'm ready." That scared feeling sometimes turns into a surprise feeling. Jabari loves surprises!  
 So Jabari takes that deep breath... 
climbs the ladder...
walks to the edge... 
and feels ready for the surprise, not so afraid anymore.
Jabari takes another deep breath and jumps. 
 After flying, he hits the water, 
goes down, down, and down and then... 
up again! 
Everyone celebrates Jabari's courage! And he's ready to go again, 
this time with that special jump - "a double backflip!" 
Hanna’s Comments: This book offers great connections to our many scriptures about courage. Don’t let the age and cuteness factor of Jabari limit you. Sure this book is great for little ones, but Jabari can be an inspiration to us all. Adults struggle with courage and can relate to jumping off a literal or figurative diving board. The metaphors of faith and our belief in God’s (or Jesus’ presence) are evident in this story. Acts that are our next steps in faith are Jabari's slow journey to the end of the diving board. Jabari's father is an obvious image of God (or Jesus) and a role-model to anyone wanting to be an encouraging parent. In this story, breath is a particularly important aspect of the strategy Jabari’s father gives him to face his fears and be ready for the joys such courage can bring. Remind your audience that breath can signify God (or the Holy Spirit) and holy inspiration. I've been doing more centering prayer lately. Perhaps you do yoga. Breath is an integral aspect to such grounding practices so we can confidently and courageously jump with faith in the delights that will follow.
Original Publisher & Date: Candlewick Press, 2017
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 2 and up, toddler and up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: Be strong and courageous. Don’t be terrified…for the Lord, your God, is with you wherever you go (Deuteronomy 31:6 & Joshua 1:9); Where shall I go from your Spirit? Where shall I flee you’re your presence? (Psalm 139:7); When you pass through the waters, I will be with you (Isaiah 43:2); You will seek me and fine me, when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13); I am with you always (Matthew 28:20); God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children who are going to church camp for the first time. Relate this story to their courage when swimming but also to other activities that will be new or require risk. Emphasize the comfort that God’s (or Jesus’) presence offers. For a class on parenting, emphasize the role Jabari’s dad plays in letting him be courageous while tooling him with strategies and confidence.