I’m a Feel-o-saur (Lezlie Evans)

Hello, friends! Our book today is I’m a Feel-o-saur, written by Lezlie Evans and illustrated by Kate Chappell, an adorable look at emotions and how we manage them.

Starring a cast of “dino-kids” – a group of children in colorful full-body dinosaur costumes – the upbeat rhyming text introduces young readers to a wide range of emotions, and how one might deal with them. Each dino-kid embodies a different feeling, from Happy-saurus to Shy-o-saurus to Scared-o-saurus to Brave-o-saurus. For negative feelings, strategies like deep breathing, counting, and seeking comfort are suggested; for positive feelings, kids are encouraged to embrace their energy and use it for good.

Absolutely fantastic. Precious, warm, and endearing illustrations paired with bouncy yet heartfelt rhyming text express a variety of moods and emotions in ways that kids can connect with. Each emotion is handled with tact and sensitivity; kids are told that it’s okay to go through many emotions in a day, and that there’s nothing wrong with having sad or mad or scared feelings. The tips on the last spread, such as drawing a picture of overcoming one’s fears or using bravery to stand up for someone else, are especially wonderful. And the diverse cast of dino-kids are simply delightful. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ absolutely loved this one. Overall, a great way to talk about feelings and coping strategies with little ones, and it’s a Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

The Happy Book: Understanding Your Feelings & The Calm Book: Understanding Your Busy Brain (Alex Allan & Anne Wilson)

Hello, friends! Our books today are The Happy Book: Understanding Your Feelings and The Calm Book: Understanding Your Busy Brain, by Alex Allan and Anne Wilson, two books to help young bookworms understand and manage their emotions.

Developed in consultation with child therapist Sarah Davis, both books break down major emotions, what can cause them, and ways to deal with them into child-friendly language. In The Happy Book, happiness, anger, fear, and sadness are explained not only in abstract terms, but also in terms of the biological science that causes them. Readers are given tips to deal with their big feelings in healthy ways. This lesson continues in The Calm Book, in which readers are given a crash course in how our brains affect our emotions, and tips on how to calm our brains through mindfulness, deep breathing, yoga, and even a few therapeutic crafts like homemade slime and glitter jars.

A novel approach to dealing with big feelings. Rather than primer-style books on emotions, these more comprehensive titles aim to help kids understand and process their feelings in healthy ways, and they do a great job of it. Both books assure that feelings, even negative ones, are normal, and give simple yet effective tips to allow little ones to have agency over their own emotions. Both books handle their subjects nicely, with Happy covering a broader range of emotions, and Calm focusing on ways to decompress anxiety and stress. By taking the reader’s feelings seriously, it gives kids confirmation that their emotions and feelings are valid. Expressive, colorful illustrations featuring a cast of entertaining animals and kids give plenty of visual interest and sets the mood for each emotion and activity nicely. The length of these make them best for elementary-age readers and older, and JJ enjoyed the fun illustrations and expressive text. A unique way to help kids explore their emotions, and we liked them – Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Bird Hugs (Ged Adamson)

Hello, friends! The Baby Bookworm household has been down with another bug, so we’re happy to be back today with a review of the lovely Bird Hugs by Ged Adamson.

Bernard is different from the other birds. When he was a baby, he didn’t realize it; he just enjoyed playing with his friends on the ground and in the trees. When his friends began to fly, however, it became clear: Bernard’s extra-long wings – both of them many times the size of his small, round body – make flight impossible. Watching as his friends frolic through the sky, Bernard wallows in disappointment, particularly after a series of failed attempts to circumvent his impairment. But one day, he hears someone crying: an orangutan who feels inexplicable sorrow. Sympathizing, Bernard wraps his extra-long wings around his new ape friend, and is surprised to find that not only does the orangutan feel better… so does he.

Loved this. Much like one of our recent favorites, All The Ways To Be Smart by Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys, this sweet story illustrates that talent and ability come in many forms, and celebrates the value of empathy and emotional aptitude. Bernard comes to find that there are many animals in need of emotional support, and both his hugs AND his talent for listening are of immense help. This earns him a jungle full of new friends, including a few who adorably help him in return in the final spread. This focus on how being different is often a strength in and of itself is a wonderfully welcome and heartwarming message, bolstered by Adamson’s adorable, emotional illustrations and clever yet tender text. The length is perfect, and JJ and I both adored it. A warm hug of a tale, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by a representative of the author in exchange for an honest review.)

Fred’s Big Feelings: The Life and Legacy of Mister Rogers (Laura Renauld)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Fred’s Big Feelings: The Life and Legacy of Mister Rogers, written by Laura Renauld and illustrated by Brigette Barrager, a loving tribute to the incomparable Fred Rogers’ life and work.

“Hello, neighbor!” the book begins, and welcomes the reader into a familiar television living room set. While we remember Fred Rogers as “America’s favorite television neighbor,” he was once a child; bullied and ignored for his weight and shyness, isolated by childhood illness, and full of very big feelings at a time when children – especially boys – were not encouraged to express them. Yet through music, puppetry, and the support of a few trusted adults like his grandfather McFeely, Fred learned to channel and express his big emotions in positive ways. And Fred grew, he found that kindness and empathy were his strengths, and his confidence grew as people began to see him for the good person he was. It was this talent at expression, empathy, listening, and connecting that led Fred to work in television, where he helped generations of children learn to deal with their own big feelings, and create a kinder world.

As we said in our review of You Are My Friend by Aimee Reid and Matt Phelan, we are big fans of Fred Rogers, and this tender, inspiring, and educational biography does an equally wonderful job at both recounting Rogers’ life while also – as the man himself always sought to do – educating and uplifting its audience. Both books are marvelous, yet distinct; Fred’s Big Feelings makes its mark by covering Rogers’ high school years, notable moments and guests on his show, and his incredible Congressional testimony to save public television. The illustrations are phenomenal, capturing Fred’s emotions and charm from childhood to adulthood, and utilizing a sweet motif of colorful rising hearts to show emotions. The length might be better for slightly older bookworms, though JJ loved it, and was delighted to see her neighbor Mister Rogers on the page once again. A lovely ode that reminds readers that it’s okay to feel, and Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Matt’s Swirly World (Madeleine Matthews)

Hello, friends! Our book today is is Matt’s Swirly World, written by Madeleine Matthews and illustrated by Cristina Diana Enache, a calming story to help children deal with frustration and anger.

Matt and his mom have had a lovely day at the park, and it’s nearly time to go home. Matt’s mom gives him a five minute warning and lets him choose his last activity. But when time is up and she goes to collect him, Matt feels angry and frustrated, and throws a tantrum. Keeping her cool, Mom calmly empathizes with Matt, then leads him through a calming guided meditation. She encourages him to view his emotions as a storm, his tantrum as a protective little dragon, and his calming thoughts as a benevolent fairy. Afterwards, Matt feels much better, and mom promises that they can return to the park tomorrow.

We were pretty critical of Matthews’s last self-published book, but this one has definitely taken steps in the right direction. While many of the same problems are present (frequent spelling and grammatical errors, plot and narrative holes, etc.), this story has a far more focused sense of purpose. Seeking to provide parents with a tool to help children deal with their emotions is always good, and while this sort of guided meditation may not work for all kids, it’s not a bad tool to have in any parenting toolkit. In this regard, the story works well at describing how to help this way: remain calm, encourage the child’s calm, use kid-friendly imagery to help them visualize their frustrations. What doesn’t work as well is the story’s guided meditation, which is slightly convoluted and confusing. The best quality here is the artwork, charmingly serene watercolors that capture the tone and intent of the story well. There’s still a lot of improvements to be made, but Matt is on the right track, and worth a shot. Baby Bookworm approved.

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the author in exchange for an honest review.)