Authors: Jairo Buitrago & Rafael Yockteng
Every time I travel to Vancouver, I pass by a neighborhood so stricken with poverty that I my heart screams inside. I always look out for the kids living there. I wonder if their imagination helps them to survive. If they have someone holding their hand when they need it.
Walk with me.
I have said these words many times to kids who were stuck in a situation. I have said it to myself when I needed my thoughts to get into motion.
Walking away from a situation.
Walking to get a new point of view.
Walking to feel a supporting and warm hand holding onto mine.
Walking to be free of worry. Sometimes with no words at all.
The cover of Walk with me by Jairo Buitrago and Rafael Yockteng shows a little girl holding a flower as an offering to a giant lion sitting opposite to her. Behind them is what it seems like, the big anonymous jungle of the city. The girl is not afraid, she is just asking for companionship to walk the long walk home together, to face the dangers on the way together, to do daily chores with her. I found myself smiling at this child so filled with imagination.
Throughout the story I feel her self empowerment. I never see that this girl lost hope despite the fact that her family lives in poverty and that something terrible must have happened to this family.
My perception changed when I see their empty home. When mom arrives at the bus stop after a long work day the girl invites her imaginary friend to stay and through a photograph you learn about the "lion", the one that is not there, the one that is being missed. I stop breathing for a moment feeling a knot in my throat shaped by my own memories.
I meet many kids while working as kids' yoga teacher and these children reserve a forever space in my heart.
I met one little boy, I call him "T". T's family had trouble and he was removed from his home. When I first saw him, he seemed shy, even scared. He never laid down to rest in yoga class, he never closed his eyes. While other children always asked me to put my hand on their back, he would always shake his head. Many months have passed since we first met. Now he comes running to the door when I enter the classroom to give me a hug and during relaxation time, he reaches out his little hand and he nods for, "Yes, hold my hand”.
I walk with him for a while.
Title: “Walk with Me” Authors: Jairo Buitrago & Rafael Yockteng Publisher: Groundwook Books Recommended for children ages 3 to 9 Hardcover: $18.95, available at our Kinder Books store. Categories: social issues, friendship, family, parents, community, feelings, emotional