by Alanna Zabel
Illustrations by Mary-Margaret Mitchell
Some of the most lasting childhood memories are shaped by books. Do you remember that feeling of awe inspired by a magical tale, or of being instantly transported to a faraway place through a vibrant illustration? Hardly a kid, I felt that childlike sense of wonder while reading Guruji’s Gift, one of four titles in Alanna Zabel’s collection of children’s books.
Alanna is the founder of AZIAM Yoga, holds a BA in Psychology and Child Development, and teaches yoga to adults (singer Adam Levine was a student) as well as kids. Her discovery tale about Ashtanga Yoga founder Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois, aka Guruji, depicts his life journey; from practicing yoga with Sri T. Krishnamacharya, to finding his bliss through teaching — and helping others uncover the same.
The beautiful watercolors accompanying the words are the handiwork of Mary-Margaret Mitchell—they’re as much a joy to look at as the story is to read. The detail in the Hindu iconography of the Ganesha elephant and Goddess Krishna is wonderful; I found myself tracing their lines, as if doing so would uncover hidden meaning.
Guruji’s Gift is an evocative way to get kids (and adults!) interested in the meaning of yoga. As Alanna wrote in the preface, “If you give purely from your heart / You will grow endless fields of flowers.” This little book is a testament to that.
Reviewed by Marina Chetner, a freelance writer and Managing Editor of Find Bliss Los Angeles. Findbliss.com
Marina Chetner is a Los Angeles-based Australian freelance writer.