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Green Steps

Short summary:

Three reviews for you: a game, a book and a film that connects us to Nature. This month we have chosen “Miyabi”; “Maps of My Emotions” and “Wonder Woman”. Yes, Wonder Woman.

You might ask yourself how I choose every month game, book and film. Well, as a father of two, I have established a keen eye for observation of what children enjoy; and I am since a few years in the lucky situation that I can spend probably more time with our two than many fathers with a full-time job.

Since three years we are members in a board game club. First in Shanghai, where we joined almost every Tuesday the gamers in the Mexican restaurant Cactus next to Worker’s Stadium on Yanping Road, now every second Saturday or so in St. Pölten’s Naturfreunde Bootshaus. My kids choose. I join them play.

Every Friday evening we lift our screen embargo and our kids are allowed to select a movie in the infinite Netflix universe. Its mostly a Studio Ghibli style animation, but occasionally something totally different.

And what about books? That’s truly another subject. I got our daughter into reading by accompanying her between age 5 and 8 every evening I could for a bed-time story. Ever since she chooses her own books when we drop into a local bookstore. It was more complicated with our son who never really warmed up to reading. Living in between three different languages doesn’t make it particularly easy for him. Good, that he has his sister to follow.


Miyabi is Japanese for elegance, grace or refinement and stands for one of the traditional Japanese aesthetic ideals. It is used in connection with Zen gardens and implies a style of minimalism. Boardgamegeek ranks the 2019 game on place 1682. That tells us little about the game. Miyabi’s designer Michael Kiesling has however a record of games which get people hooked.

Miyabi is suitable for small people aged 8+; and our 9 year old son had no problems to follow the instructions. What we liked about it, is not only the connection to Japan – one of our favorite travel destinations, but the three dimensional aspect. Players compete against each other in building the most beautiful Zen garden. In each of the six building rounds a total of about 100 garden-tiles need to find a spot on each player’s empty plot. the first two dimensions reminded us of Scrabble, because players collect points for how they connect different design elements, but the third dimension of adding new layers to the garden landscape makes the board game in it’s simplicity miraculously spacious.

The indicated duration of 45 min makes the game also for first timers an enjoyable experience which does not require to reserve an entire day. Miyabi comes with six integrated extentions which set a different focus on specific landscaping objectives. We have been intrigued enough to play it again and recommend it warmly.

maps of my emotions

Italian artist Bimba Landmann has produced with Maps of My Emotions another beautiful book which appeals to children and adults alike. The recommended reading age of 5-8 can well be extended to 9-15 and beyond. Landmann’s surrealist painting style reminds of Salvatore Dali and filmmaker Rene Laloux. She guides the reader who is more an onlooker than anything else on a journey into the depths of human emotional life. Hope, love, hate, fear, every emotion that we know and some we are yet to discover are made accessible for adventurous psychological geographers.

The book has already been translated in many languages. Get a copy. This is one of the children’s books which will stay in your library.

Wonder Woman

Yes, Wonder Woman. Our daughter picked this unlikely film last Friday and, man, was I reluctant to watch another hero blockbuster. It turned out to be an action filled evening spectacle with a superficial lesson on Greek mythology and native American wisdom. Diana, aka Wonder Woman, the unrecognized daughter of Zeus, who grows up under the protection of the Amazons, battles Ares, the God of war.

Gender stereotypes made this film a bit difficult to digest, but we liked that Diana does not give up on humanity and rejects Ares’ suggestions that man is born evil. People are made into what is believed of them. This mold holds not only true for Gods, but also for mortals. Great lesson for the entire family which reminds me of a native American tale I was told not too long ago: An old Cherokee.

An old Cherokee Indian was teaching his grandson about life. "There is a battle going on inside me right now," he told the boy. "It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is anger, envy, sadness, grief, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, sense of superiority and the ego. The other is good - it is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. And the same struggle takes place in you - and in every human being." The grandson thought for a minute and then asked his grandfather which wolf would win. The old man simply replied, "The one you feed!"

Be careful: this film has PG-12 rating and includes substantial – super hero – violence. Only suitable for teens or older. If you want to tune down on fighting try one of the older animated versions, where Wonder Woman adopts like in this new one from 2017 the role of impersonated Gaia.

Further Reading