Sometimes it’s difficult for young children to talk about their feelings. Sometimes, reading a book about feelings can open the door for children to express that they feel the same way. Sometimes, by reading a book, children might realize that they are not alone in their feelings. This collection of new releases is perfect for those who want to help children deal with uncomfortable feelings.
“My Heart” by Corinna Luyken is a beautifully created book illustrated in grays and yellow. This book is filled with metaphor, so it would not only be useful when talking about feelings, but also as a lovely example of figurative language when teaching older students about simile and metaphor. On the first page, a girl is standing in front of a window that radiates yellow. The text says, “My heart is a window,” and the next two-page spread says, “my heart is a slide.” The illustration is the girl at the top of a huge slide that ends in a soft pile of yellow, kind of like a sunrise. There could be a long discussion just about these simple four pages. What would the difference be between a heart that is like a window versus a heart that is like a slide? Every child might have a different, and equally valid, answer! The final message about one’s heart is beautiful and one that children will be able to understand. Both in terms of text and the illustrations, this is one very special book. Both are works of art. (Dial)
“Ruby Finds a Worry” by Tom Percival is, ironically, perhaps almost the opposite of “My Heart” in terms of the illustrations. Percival uses color when drawing Ruby, the girl who has a small, yellow “worry.” The worry follows her, and as she worries about it, it grows. Some pages are mostly gray with the large yellow worry taking up more and more of Ruby’s space. Worrying becomes the only thing that Ruby can think of until she sees a young boy at the park, and he looks worried. And Ruby thinks she can almost see a worry next to him. When they start talking, he shares his worry with her and something surprising happens! The illustrations are lovely, the text is simple for young children, and the message — that sharing a worry helps make it disappear — is a great one to teach young and older children. (Bloomsbury – preorder, it’s out September 3rd)
In “I’m Worried,” author Michael Ian Black tackles the subject of why it’s a waste of time to worry. Debbie Ridpath Ohi complements the text with simple but colorful and expressive illustrations. The main characters are a girl, a potato, and a flamingo. Potato is worried about the future. He wants his friends to reassure him that things will be okay. But the girl says she can’t because nobody knows what’s going to happen. She reminds them of bad things that happened to each of them in the past, and she points out that it all ended up being fine. Since we don’t know what the future will bring, she advises us to live in the now and enjoy the present. This could be a difficult topic, but Black manages to present it with humor and a light touch that kids will understand. Perfect for use in the classroom or with a mental health professional! Kids will love it. (Simon & Schuster)
And while sometimes, talking about a worry helps, sometimes the opposite is true. Cori Doerrfeld points that out in “The Rabbit Listened.” When the world comes crashing down around Taylor (actually a pile of building blocks), she is bereft. The chicken notices and wants to talk about it. But Taylor doesn’t feel like talking. The bear notices next, and offers to shout because Taylor must feel angry. But she doesn’t feel angry. Different animals come and tell her how she should feel and what she should do, “But Taylor didn’t feel like doing anything with anybody.” So they left her alone. But when rabbit comes and sits close to her, Taylor realizes what she needed all along. This book is a wonderful reminder how just listening can be more important than talking. That’s why children love having a pet – a dog or a cat – because they do nothing but listen. They are nonjudgmental. They are just there, loving and supportive, and they make us feel better. Rabbits can do that, too. (Dial Books for Young Readers)
“Albert’s Quiet Quest” by Isabelle Arsenault is the story of Albert, who wants peace and quiet to read a book. But one by one, his friends come and invite him to play with them, garden with them, dance with them, and finally, Albert snaps. All he wants is to read in some peace and quiet. Suitably chastened, his friends leave. But when they return, the surprise is on Albert. Arsenault turns the tables on Albert in a sweet and tender way, and this book would be great for starting a conversation about being flexible, playing with others, learning to respect the wishes of others, being thoughtful, and whatever other lessons the readers come up with. They will have some wonderful ideas about the author’s message in this book — guaranteed! (Random House Books for Young Readers)
“This Beach is Loud” by Samantha Cotterill is about a boy who is excited about going to the beach for the first time. He’s excited and filled with enthusiasm until they arrive, and he realizes that the beach is very crowded and very noisy. The noise and the sand and the people are overwhelming. But his dad is very special and very patient, and he knows just what to do. They count together, and dad lets him be until he’s ready to join in the fun. The illustrations are fabulous and cleverly show the boy’s excitement and reflect his feelings of anxiety when he becomes overwhelmed.
Also by Samantha Cotterill and part of the “little senses” series is “Nope. Never. Not for Me!” In this book, the main character is a girl (who could be a boy; there are no distinguishing features) who refuses to try broccoli. She doesn’t like the way it looks, feels, smells. She’s determined to not like it. But her patient parents suggest to have her dinosaur try it first. Mom thinks the dino likes it. So finally, through a patient process, the little girl tries it. She still doesn’t like it, but that’s okay. The point is that she tried something new! The publishers says, “Samantha Cotterill’s “little senses” books are created with love for any kid who sometimes feels anxious or overwhelmed, but especially for kids who are on the autism spectrum or have sensory issues.” Kids with and without sensory issues will enjoy this book, and it’s a great way to discuss how some kids are more sensitive than others when it comes to things like noise or other possible distractions. (Dial Books for Young Readers)
“My Big Bad Monster” by A. N. Kang features a cute redhead with a not-so-cute gray monster who grows as her self-doubt grows. She gets more and more unhappy, more and more insecure, and the monster gets larger and larger and more in control. Finally, it’s only when she tries to take control of her life that she is able to vanquish the monster. This book raises interesting questions about the role of friends in helping get over insecurity and how sometimes one just has to pretend to be secure to finally feel secure. (Disney-Hyperion Books)
Please note: These reviews are based on the final, hardcover books provided by the publisher for review purposes.