Book Review: Baxter Turns Down His Buzz
Would a book about learning slow and easy meditation techniques be too slow and difficult for a distractible child with ADHD? Our book reviewer feared so — but her son was rapt the entire time.
By James M. Foley; Illustrated by Shirley Ng-Benitez
I assigned this book to my son to read one morning in homeschool. Bunny Baxter won the last forest race, but did it by pushing animals over, then he hogged all the water bottles afterward.
Uncle Barnaby teaches him to “turn down his buzz” through several kinds of meditation (feeling the world around him, relaxing his body, taking deep breaths). Baxter practices what Uncle Barnaby has taught him, and ends up rescuing a baby chipmunk, while still having time to win a race.
The illustrations are good — nicely drawn but not cutesy — and work well to help tell Baxter’s story. He really is every kid with ADHD, who might perform but who doesn’t notice what’s going on around him. It’s a lot to pack into one children’s book, but Foley manages it. He spends a good half of the book talking about meditation, but the book never loses its flow — and kids won’t lose their interest.
I thought my son’s attention might flag when Foley kept talking about relaxing and tightening his tapping paw, but my son was rapt. I also wasn’t sure if kids would get the message about meditation, but my six-year-old immediately picked up on what happened. Baxter, he said, felt the wind and relaxed his paws, practiced it, and won the race. The fact that he got the “practicing” part particularly impressed me; for meditation like this to work, a kid would have to do it on a regular basis. Baxter is a great introduction to this tool for managing ADHD, especially for little kids, though older ones may also enjoy it. For my son’s writing assignment that day, he proclaimed, “Baxter is good.” High praise, indeed.