School of Awake: A Girl's Guide to the Universe
by Kidada Jones, illustrated by Koa Jones

New World Library, 2017. ISBN 978-1-608-68458-8.
Reviewed by Mary Ann Moore
Posted on 11/30/2017

Young Women; Nonfiction: Life Lessons; Nonfiction: Creative Life

In the welcoming introduction to her interactive and colorful book, Kidada Jones says she's a product designer by day and has always been and will always be a "full time student of my inner self."

Directed to an audience of girls aged 13 to 17, the book is full of affirming messages no matter what a reader's age or gender. Jones considers the book a gift to her younger self and for readers "to not only get to know yourself but also learn to love who you are and discover the potential of who you can become."

School of Awake is a fun book to look at and to engage in, with illustrations and photographs by Koa Jones, the author's childhood friend. Nikole Magana is included in the acknowledgments and as a graphic designer with Kidada Jones since 2008 must have had a hand in creating the pleasing design for the book. It's definitely eye-catching for a young audience.

The craft suggestions start with a "Soul-Soothing Tool Kit" made from a shoe box. It is meant to be a special place to hold all the various other crafts readers make—all made for less than $5 with supplies from dollar and discount stores.

Featured at the end of each chapter is:"So You're Telling Me This Because?" For example, at the end of the first chapter about the chemical make-up of the body and the chemicals that make up stars, Jones explains we're all connected and are part of something bigger. Jones describes the "HeartStar" as if it's a "built-in GPS that wants to guide you to the best version of yourself. It's your bestie."

Chapters cover breathing (noting the parasympathetic nervous system), mindfulness and getting in touch with one's "authentic self" through questions, affirmations, a visual exercise called "True Self Portrait," and a "love letter to self." All very refreshing in a world that entices us to spend time in an outward fashion, engaging in social media for instance.

The most critical relationship you will ever have is you, says Jones and everything the book has to offer supports that connection. As for relationships with others, a chapter entitled "The Ocean of Emotion" covers having a crush and dealing with bullies. "Nature is Magical" outlines the many gifts of Nature with suggestions for a scavenger hunt. Recipes are included throughout the book such as one for crispy, oven-baked kale.

Words are powerful, the author says, and advises finding "words to build peace rather than breed hate." Quotes throughout the book include the wise words of Rachel Carson, Mother Teresa, Louise Hay, Lao Tzu, Carl Jung, Maya Angelou, and Michelle Obama. Other helpful and healthy practices include "Healthy Eating Tips," yoga poses, and sleep hygiene along with "Tips for Healing, Rejuvenating Sleep" and tips for keeping a dream journal. A series of questions asks: "Are you in touch with your body?"

I was happy to read School of Awake although I'm many decades beyond the target audience. It covers psychology, self-realization, the spiritual life, healthy approaches to one's body and so many practices that are useful to all, no matter what our age. I'll be pleased to pass the book along to a ten-year old friend. I'll get another copy later when my granddaughter gets a bit older.

Kidada Jones has worked as a model, fashion designer, stylist, and brand consultant. She found her unique style at a young age, mixing the whimsical and contemporary to create her trademark aesthetic. She lives in California. Illustrator Koa Jones grew up in Southern California with art in her heart and an affinity for drawing, painting and creating arts and crafts. She lives with her two children, Renzo and Linnea, in Woodland Hills, California. Visit her website.

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