The Six Weeks to Yehidah blog tour is well underway. So it's time to post my review of the book. Make sure to come visit here on Friday the 6th, because Annalise, the heroine of this book, will be here to talk with me!
This fun little book is about a girl names Annalise who is truly a free spirit. Right from the beginning I was amazed at how happy and free she is with herself, as she walked out the door during a rainstorm, and took a walk with her two favorite sheep, making up a new song as she went.
Annalise soon falls asleep under a tree and finds herself, and her sheep Mabel and Mimi, walking and talking together in the clouds. There they meet Bob, Annalise's imaginary friend of earlier days.
Bob takes Annalise on many adventures through the clouds, and Annalise has to solve many difficult tasks. These tasks teach Annalise more about herself, how all living things are connected, and how to be truly enlightened through serving and loving others.
This book has a very "Dorothy in Oz" feel to it, but is not an adventure written merely for the sake of an adventure. The book's premise is to teach about finding inner strength and being one with others through serving them. There are several religious elements and teachings in the story, particularly Buddhism. Some specific concepts mentioned are nirvana, rebirth or reincarnation, and the terms namaste and bodhisattva.
The main lesson I believe Annalise learns is that she has inherent strengths, skills, and knowledge that she didn't know she had. This realization empowers her to be content with who she is and to share this empowerment with others. These concepts may go right over a young reader's head, so there is a companion journal/workbook, My Yehidah, that poses questions about the story and provides corresponding writing and drawing activities.
Throughout the book, whether in her world or her dream world, Annalise was never scared about being away from home or fearful of what she might find. She never got angry or frustrated. She just sang songs, talked with her sheep and Bob, and found everything exciting and amazing. Even in the beginning of the book Annalise went outside to play during a rainstorm. She didn't care one bit she was getting wet and cold. This excessive happiness just didn't seem normal to me. I don't know any child who is constantly happy like this, and I can't say if children reading this book will relate to Annalise in this way. Even in Oz, Dorothy worried a bit here and there in her adventures - "Lions, and tigers, and bears! Oh my!"
This lack of full human emotion is a bit of a detriment to the lessons the author attempts to convey. Annalise moves so easily through her process of enlightenment, but what about someone who is not so happy? What about people who are more doubtful? What about kids like my own son, who would wonder "Am I going to fall through the clouds and go splat on the ground?" What about the child who would rather just sit and cry so she can wake up from the dream and see her mommy? These would be some big hurdles in the story if the main character had more human cares and concerns.
Overall, I liked this book very much, and I plan to read it to my own children and get their views on it. The writing style is excellent, the settings are characters are very beautiful and loving, and Mabel and Mimi are especially funny. The book is quite a new and fascinating approach to teaching about enlightenment. I think the companion journal/workbook would be wonderful for readers to use to seek out their own inner strength and self-validation.