Tag: emotions

Review: Who Done It? by Olivier Tallec

Who Done It by Olivier Tallec

Who Done It? by Olivier Tallec (InfoSoup)

This long narrow picture book opens with the spine at the top, showing two lines of characters in a double-page spread. A question is asked about the characters. Who is in love? Who is wearing a disguise? Who is playing a prank? Then the reader tries to spot the answer among the characters. Some of them are easy, others are more challenging to answer and take some close examination of the illustrations. This is a quieter kind of “I Spy” book with simple art and a focus on emotions.

A French import, this picture book will surely find a lot of fans with the crowd who are a bit too young for more complicated finding books. The focus on emotions is very appealing and will lead to conversations about how you can tell from a picture who is feeling a specific thing. Tallec does a wonderful job of keeping the images clear enough to figure out the answer but also alluring enough that readers will examine almost every figure to see if there are more than one answer.

This is a very appealing picture book that mixes search and find with emotions. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books.

Review: When Sophie’s Feelings Are Really, Really Hurt by Molly Bang

When Sophies Feelings Are Really Really Hurt by Molly Bang

When Sophie’s Feelings Are Really, Really Hurt by Molly Bang

Released September 29, 2015.

Sophie and her class at school are given an assignment to paint a tree from real life. Sophie has a favorite tree, the big beech tree where she goes when she is feeling sad. When she visits it, she sees how it glows in the sun, how its branches are formed. But when she tries to paint it, she realizes that its gray trunk actually looks sad in the painting, it’s the opposite of how she feels about the tree. So she changes the bark color to a vivid blue, the sky is orange and the leaves are chartreuse and ringed in yellow to make them glow. Sophie is very happy with her painting until the other children start to tease her about it not being realistic at all. Sophie’s feelings get very hurt until her teacher comes over and they talk about what Sophie was showing in her painting of the tree. Sophie also gets the chance to see the trees that everyone in the class painted and to see how they conveyed what they were feeling too.

This second book about Sophie follows the very popular When Sophie Gets Angry – Really, Really Angry, which received a Caldecott Honor. This book focuses on feelings and emotions once again and wisely takes on emotions through the lens of art. Bang makes sure to explain exactly how Sophie is feeling throughout the book, focusing on the emotions from how the tree makes her feel to the way that the teasing at school feels down to her physical reactions as well. These clear looks at emotions will allow a discussion of feelings that is manageable and one that can embrace art as well.

Bang’s illustrations are exceptional. They glow with a light from within. The beech tree is fabulous and one can immediately see the connection between Bang’s art and Sophie’s. Both are playful, colorful and show deep emotion. I particularly love the image when Sophie is upset that looks at her gazing down at her feet, so that the reader is almost seeing things from Sophie’s perspective. It captures the feeling of self-doubt and even shame that teasing can create. The entire book has moments like this.

Another winning title from Molly Bang, this second Sophie book deserves to be in every library right alongside the first. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from ARC received from The Blue Sky Press.

Review: Bernice Gets Carried Away by Hannah E. Harrison

Bernice Gets Carried Away by Hannah Harrison

Bernice Gets Carried Away by Hannah E. Harrison (InfoSoup)

Bernice is not having a good time at the birthday party and the cloudy day suits her mood. Her piece of birthday cake didn’t have a frosting rose on it like the others. Her soda was warm and tasted like prune grapefruit flavor. And then the big kids hit the pinata down before she even got a swing and the only candy Bernice got was a stepped-on gumdrop. So when the clown showed up with a huge bunch of balloons, Bernice grabbed them away and took them all for herself. But there may have been a few too many, and she floated up and up. She floated past other animals in the tree who were having a bad day too. She floated up until she got stuck on the bottom of the gloomy cloud. When she looked down, she realized that her problems were pretty small from a distance. Then she set out to change her day to a sunny one after all.

Harrison captures all of the elements of a bad mood and a horrible day. When you are already in a bad mood, nothing much can fix it except yourself. Harrison makes sure that it’s a substantially bad day, one that most children would have difficulty coping with. She does it with subtle humor, making the single gumdrop a stepped-on one and the soda flavor truly icky. She also makes sure that while the result is a more cheerful day, it takes a little while to get there and the change though fast does make sense.

The cover alone made me laugh out loud. Harrison knows her cats and no creature can look quite as grumpy as a wronged feline. The facial expressions of all of the animals are priceless. The paintings are detailed to the point where you can see individual hairs on the animals faces. Each one has a distinct personality, even if they are one in a crowd of little animals. Then the mood change happens and it’s like Bernice is a completely different little kitten with wide eyes and an internal glow.

Purely satisfying and fun, this picture book is a happy treat to share. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Dial Books.

Review: The Day Everything Went Wrong by Moritz Petz

Day Everything Went Wrong by Moritz Petz

The Day Everything Went Wrong by Moritz Petz, illustrated by Amelie Jackowski

When Badger wakes up one morning, he decides that he is only going to do things that he enjoys that day. But as he tries to get out of bed, he knocks over his lamp. Still in a good mood, he sits down to breakfast and his cup falls off the table and breaks. After breakfast, he can’t find his colored pencils. When he tries to spend time in his yard, he trips on a shovel and falls down, hurting his knee. He decides that the day is really rotten and heads off to see his friends. As he visits them, each one is having a bad day. Badger manages to help each of them feel better about their day, fixing what he can. But he still isn’t having a great day himself when he heads back home to find all of his friends there to make his day better in return.

This Swiss import has a gentleness that permeates the entire picture book. Though Badger is having a very bad day, readers will know that it’s all going to be alright just from the tone of the book. Young readers will recognize things that frustrate them in their own days, toys not working right, being unable to find things, and breaking things accidentally. Badger does not react in anger at any of this, feeling more sad and disappointed as his great day changes to a rotten one. The example that helping others will help your own day improve is definitely something worth reading about.

Jackowski’s illustrations add to the gentle nature of the book. Badger’s home is filled with touches that make it warm and comfortable. The tea kettle is steaming, toast is right within reach, a garden is right outside the door, and there’s a ladder to reach a high branch. Heading out to see the other animals, they all have homes that are personalized but have that same sense of small details.

A book about bad moods and bad days but also how to brighten your day back up again. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff

Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff

Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff

Trent can’t manage to move on from last year when a tragic accident ended with another boy dead. Trent lost not only all of his friends because of it but also finds himself unable to play the sports he loved, like baseball. At the same time, Trent is unable to control his anger, even if he puts his most disturbing thoughts down on paper in drawings. It helps a bit, but he continues to have problems getting angry at everything and everyone. It all just proves that he is entirely the messed up kid that everyone things he is already. Fallon enters Trent’s live as they head to middle school. She is a girl who loves baseball movies, has a similar sense of humor, and has clearly also survived a tragedy which left her with a scarred face. Fallon becomes Trent’s closest friend, but one burst of anger may end that too, taking away the only good thing he has left.

Graff does such a beautiful job in this middle grade novel. She creates in Trent a truly complex character, one that readers will need time to understand. Trent is at his heart a boy dealing with death and loss and his own role in it, including showing a lot of self-hatred. So in that way, he is an entirely understandable character, one that is sympathetic. Then there is the angry Trent, who loses control, says horrible things, and lashes out. That part of his personality is hard to like, making him at times a character who is far from heroic. At the same time, this is the same person, likable one moment and the next impossible to like at all.

Graff captures the loss of control that comes with flashing red anger, the words that flow out of control, and the way that it feels in the body. Readers will completely understand those zings of anger and the shame that follows if you lash out. Graff also shows a path forward from being isolated and angry, a way to find people to help you even if you have lashed out at them earlier. It is a powerful story of redemption, of learning to return to who you really are, and of self forgiveness.

Beautifully written, this book is an amazing look at powerful emotions and the equal power of watering plants, breathing deeply and playing baseball. Appropriate for ages 10-13.

Reviewed from ARC received from Philomel Books.

Review: Betty Goes Bananas by Steve Antony

betty goes bananas

Betty Goes Bananas by Steve Antony

Released December 23, 2014.

Betty is a gorilla and being a gorilla, she loves bananas.  So when she finds one on the ground, she wants to eat it so much.  But she can’t open it, even with her teeth, or her feet!  So what is a little gorilla to do?  Well, Betty throws a fit and cries and screams.  Then she calms down and Mr. Toucan tells her that there is no need to act like that, he will show her how to peel the banana.  And he does.  But Betty had wanted to peel it herself.  And she starts once again to cry and scream and kick.  Mr. Toucan stays and waits for her to calm down again, telling her that she can peel the next banana she finds.  Betty is happy and is about to finally eat the banana.  When it breaks.  And I bet you can guess what she does next!

This is a rather merry book about the strong emotions that come with being a toddler.  Betty is a jolly little gorilla until she is disappointed, something that children and adults alike will recognize immediately.  The addition of Mr. Toucan as an adult figure works well here, and I appreciate that he allows Betty to calm down before simply telling her that there is no need for her to act that way.  The entire book is filled with humor, from the splendid temper tantrums that have a rhythm and repetition all their own, to the believability of the various things that set Betty off.  It’s well paced and nicely timed with gorgeous pauses built in before the tantrums.

Antony’s art adds much to the appeal of the book.  The bulk of the book is done with sunshine yellow backgrounds, while the tantrum sections are a bright red.  Little Betty does actually throw herself on the ground, kick her feet and scream!  Her emotions are clear and young readers will enjoy seeing her throw her tantrums and recover too.

Dynamic, funny and oh so appropriate for toddlers, this picture book will be enjoyed by those who throw tantrums as well as those who don’t.  Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from copy received from Schwartz & Wade.

Review: Here Comes Destructosaurus! by Aaron Reynolds

here comes destructosaurus

Here Comes Destructosaurus! by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Jeremy Tankard

Destructosaurus enters town tipping buildings over as he rushes in.  His feet are filthy from seaweed and fish.  He is angry and shoots flames from his mouth, doesn’t he know he needs to burp quietly and keep his mouth closed?  Destructosaurus gets grumpier and starts to show attitude, throwing buildings around and generally throwing a temper tantrum too.  But then he finds what he was looking for the whole time and settles down, but he won’t stay to help clean up the mess.  Maybe someone else will?

Told in an adult voice scolding Destructosaurus for his lack of manners and his tantrum, this picture book is a blast to share aloud.  Children will immediately recognize the tone of the voice and will delight in it being focused on a rampaging monster.  The humor here is wonderfully broad and right in your face.  It will appeal to toddlers who have their own tantrums and older children who will enjoy the play of monster movie and parent.

Tankard’s illustrations are bight colored and loud.  They zing with energy as the monster enters the city and destroys it.  The monster is done in thick strokes that set him apart from the landscape, allowing him to pop and seem even larger than the surrounding buildings.

A zany and fun look at tantrums, this book will be appreciated by parents and children alike.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books.