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PEGGY THE ALWAYS SORRY PIGEON (Wendy Meddour and Carmen Saldana)
Peggy the Always Sorry Pigeon (Oxford University Press, 2022) is a book that will really resonate with a certain kind of reader. Through plenty of action and fun characters, it drives home the important and helpful message that you only need to apologise if you’ve genuinely done something wrong.
Peggy is a very apologetic pigeon. She always assumes she’s in the wrong, even when she’s the one being bullied. But Cynthia, an older female seagull, gives her the necessary skills to stand up for herself.
A great book for children that need to practise being more assertive.
EVERYBODY HAS FEELINGS (Jon Burgerman)
We all have feelings and that’s okay!
This is the message behind Jon Burgerman’s picture book, Everybody Has Feelings (Oxford University Press, 2021). Throughout the story, we meet fun and friendly characters experiencing over twenty different feelings including pride, disappointment, love and worry. Each feeling is depicted in a simple, relatable context and children are encouraged to follow the characters’ storylines across the pages. There is plenty of ‘space’ for readers to talk about and comment on what is happening and why, acting as a catalyst for further discussion about feelings.
What is especially great about this book is that it goes beyond your most obvious feelings, to explore things like confidence, stress and inspiration, helping children to explore more complex feelings and the vocabulary needed to do that, in a vibrant and easy to read format.
A SHELTER FOR SADNESS (Anne Booth, David Litchfield)
‘Sadness has come to live with me and I am building it a shelter. I am building a shelter for my sadness and welcoming it inside.’
The child narrator of Anne Booth and David Litchfield’s A Shelter for Sadness (Templar Publishing, 2021) talks the reader through his experiences of living with sadness. The small boy creates a shelter for his sadness, a safe space where sadness is welcome, where it can curl up small, or be as big as it can be, where it can be noisy or quiet, or anything in between. This offers the reader down-to-earth ideas of how to cope with sadness when it appears, which it does for us all.
Anne’s text is heart-felt and honest. David’s stunning illustrations give this story a light and hopeful feel, making it a poignant and heart-warming picture book exploring the importance of making space for sadness.
WHEN SADNESS COMES TO CALL (Eva Eland)
Eva Eland’s When Sadness Comes to Call (Andersen Press, 2020) is a powerful and accessible picture book that can be used to talk about sadness with children.
The illustrations are soft with effective use of white space, allowing the poignancy of discussing all feelings, especially the negative ones, to shine through. The direct storytelling voice facilitates conversations with children about how sadness makes them feel and what can be done about it. Children will be inspired to talk about and problem-solve what the protagonist can do. The story ends with the child making friends with sadness, encouraging readers to spend time with the emotions that make them feel uncomfortable, and not to fear them.
FEELINGS (Libby Walden, Richard Jones)
Libby Walden and Richard Jones are the perfect pairing in Feelings – Inside My Heart and In My Head (Little Tiger, 2016), which is a lyrical and poetic portrayal of the feelings we have so strongly, but do not see. Richard brings feelings, including bravery, sadness, happiness, jealousy and more, alive with his evocative landscapes and striking use of colour. Libby’s poems are bursting with dynamic word choices and metaphors for the feelings that feel like a mystery sometimes.
This book could easily be used with children and young people older than the traditional picture book age as a starting point for children creating their own feeling-inspired poetry.
This book was recommended by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge in HRH The Duchess of Cornwall’s Reading Room, and rightly so.
SOMETIMES – A BOOK OF FEELINGS (Stephanie Stansbie, Elisa Paganelli)
Sometimes: A Book of Feelings (Little Tiger, 2021) is a helpful book with a rhyming text and characterful illustrations, that takes the reader through a day with two siblings who experience a whole myriad of emotions. From excitement to disappoint, anger, fear and sadness, we are given tips on how to manage emotion, as well as introduction to how it can feel.
There are lots of lovely things to spot in Elisa’s detailed artwork, alongside the use of colour and weather that combine to portray atmosphere. There is much to discuss in Stephanie’s text and in the storyline too, such as when the reader might have experienced various feelings and what they did about it.
What was especially impressive about this book was the backmatter – a guide to each emotion helping readers, young and old, learn about feelings, re-iterating the takeaway that everybody has feelings and that’s ok.
THE COLOUR OF HAPPY (Laura Baker, Angie Rozelaar)
Blue is for the calm I feel wandering in the spring.
Yellow is for happy when I spot a special thing.
The Colour Of Happy (Hodder, 2019) is a lovely book for helping very young children understand feelings, linking emotions to colours in a simple but effective way. It has a really sweet gentle narrative too, cleverly woven into the rhyming text and illustrations. The book could be used to start a conversation with children about how different colours make them feel and the colour of their happy. Perfectly pitched for this young age group, this book gentles encourages readers to talk about, name and investigate their feelings.
SWEEP (Louise Grieg, Júlia Sardà)
Sweep (Egmont 2018) is a wonderful story about what can happen if you let a bad mood get the better of you. Ed and his bad mood sweep, sweep, sweep through the town until his emotions grow and gather so much pace the town is dark and Ed is tired and hungry.
In this poetic, uplifting story, Louise Greig and Júlia Sardà use a suitable visual metaphor to show readers what can happen when you try to sweep your troubles away. Perfect for helping children learn to recognise and deal with big emotions.
BARBARA THROWS A WOBBLER (Nadia Shireen)
Barbara is the protagonist of Nadia Shireen’s Barbara Throws a Wobbler (Puffin 2021) who is having ‘one of those days!’ After a sock problem in the morning and a strange pea at lunchtime, her day goes from bad to worse, resulting in the appearance of a wobbler – a red, jelly-like cloud that emerges above Barbara’s head!
With patience, understanding and a dollop of humour, Barbara overcomes her wobbler, squishing it until she can hold it in her paw and POP! It vanishes! She’s goes back to the park where her friends are waiting, and where the reader is let into a secret. Everyone has wobblers from time to time.
Nadia’s playful, exaggerated illustrations convey the characters’ exasperation, hurt, and eventual delight at the newfound empowerment over her feelings. The humour is laugh out loud and perfect for the age group (and for adult readers, too!)
MY BIG SHOUTING DAY (Rebecca Patterson)
In My Big Shouting Day (Jonathon Cape, 2012), Bella’s day starts off badly. From then on, nothing seems to be right – broken biscuits, cold bath water… so she SHOUTS. This book is written in first person, and so Bella feels hugely authentic and relatable.
The tension and shouting escalate, leaving the reader wondering how Bella will ever snap out of her shouty mood. But grownups and children will be reassured that even the worst days can be made right with an apology. It’s a reassuring ending, reminding little ones prone to shouty days that your adults never stop loving you.
THE BIG ANGRY ROAR (Jonny Lambert)
The fun word play and collaged characters in The Big Angry Roar (Little Tiger, 2022) work in perfect collaboration for a little cub’s journey through the savannah as he finds a way to let out his anger. When Cub has sibling troubles, and gets so angry he thinks he might POP, he sets off to find a solution. But stamping and stomping and bashing and crashing only make him angrier. Through Jonny’s characterful illustrations and dynamic text, Cub learns that everyone gets angry and that’s ok, but it is important to find a way to let his anger out.
Cub’s solution feels expected initially – with deep breaths in and out – but ends with funny faces and giggles. Soon Cub feels much better and apologises to his sibling for a suitably heartfelt ending. A perfect combination of heart and humour with a relatable and empowering takeaway.
SOMETIMES I AM FURIOUS (Timothy Knapman, Joe Berger)
Sometimes I am Furious (Macmillan, 2021) is a picture book with a wonderful mix of heart and humour, perfectly pitched for the age group. The relatable main character with suitably exaggerated expressions, add to the fun and the witty verse. The scenes of the little girl being furious will definitely bring a smile to little readers, as well as the reasons for her bad mood.
With the support of an adult, the main character learns how to calm down, giving the reader some useful strategies to try too! There’s a very sweet and well-timed ending, detailing that the child still sometimes get mad… but with their new skills, now isn’t for quite as long!
LUCY’S BLUE DAY (Christopher Duke, Federica Bartolini)
Lucy’s Blue Day (2019) is a rhyming book about a girl whose hair changes colour to match her feelings. Happiness is purple, mad is red, envy is green, and her low mood is represented by dark blue.
But Lucy finds it hard to explain and understand why she feels sad… until she sees someone else with dark blue hair. Someone who like her has blue days now and then.
Lucy opens up to those close to her and learns that we all have blue days from time to time – and mad and envious days too – and that’s ok.