This time on Kitten Corner I wanted to highlight some beautiful picture books that tackle the subject of feelings, friendships, and other emotional issues – there’s been a gorgeous selection published recently, so if you’re in need of a book that speaks to your and your little ones’ hearts, this is the post for you!
All of these books were sent to me for review, but that doesn’t affect my opinions!
Sometimes by Stephanie Stansbie and Elisa Paganelli
Published by Little Tiger Books on 1st April 2021
This is a vibrant, fun picture book that takes an almost synaesthetic approach to feelings. Each different emotion is given a page or spread in a different colour, with fear being shown as a roiling indigo sea, anger as a swelling red-purple cloud, excitement as rich orange sunshine, and peace as a calm green field. It’s beautiful to look at, but also evokes each emotion really well! The text rhymes nicely, and has a wonderful message about how to handle negative emotions, but it’s almost secondary to the expressive illustrations. The last page offers some practical tips for tackling bad feelings, but I loved that it didn’t try to say that you shouldn’t feel bad – it makes a point of normalising negative feelings as part of life that everyone experiences. This would be a perfect start to open a conversation with kids about having a healthy attitude to their feelings – if you only pick up one of these books, I think it should be this one!
The Boys by Lauren Ace and Jenny Lovlie
Published by Little Tiger Books on 1st April 2021
This sweet read is a follow-up to 2018’s The Girls, and follows four boys from childhood to adulthood, focusing on the bond they share as friends. It’s absolutely lovely, and so nice to see the emotional lives of boys at the centre of a book; the story never shies away from showing their feelings, and it’s honestly refreshing to see boys and men able to cry without judgement, whether at the joy of getting married or the sadness of losing a pet. It’s so important that we allow boys to show their emotions, and this beautiful picture book would be a great start to just normalising that. I also loved the soft, textured illustrations, and the casual inclusion of queer characters (one boy has two mums, and another marries a man!). Very little children may find its gentleness a little bit too boring, but for slightly older kids this is one I highly recommend – it radiates love! Have tissues on hand the first time you read as an adult, though…
The Perfect Shelter by Clare Helen Welsh and Åsa Gilland
Published in paperback by Little Tiger Books on 13th May 2021 (available now in hardback)
This is another one you’ll want to have tissues ready for as an adult! The Perfect Shelter looks at the difficult experience of someone you love being very ill, following a little girl as her sister goes into hospital. It has a happy-ish ending and is full of love throughout, but it does feel quite hard-hitting. Though they aren’t the focus of the illustrations, details like the parents crying, the machines around the hospital bed and the sister wearing a head wrap to cover her hair loss are shown frankly – this might be a difficult read, but I think it’s a good thing not to shy away from the realities of the situation as it may help to normalise and contextualise them for children. The little girl’s fear and confusion is clear, but her love for her sister shines through the warm illustrations. I can’t see such a difficult subject making this a book we reach for as a daily read, but it’s definitely one that’s important, and would be great to have on hand in schools and libraries in case anyone needs it.
Calmer Llama by Dr Naira Wilson and David Creighton-Pester
Published by Little Tiger Books on 13th May 2021
This is a fun little book! With textured bits to feel on every page, and a mirror at the end, this will be a hit with very little ones who still like their books interactive, but it’s also a great introduction to handling anxiety or worry. The text is written by a child psychologist, and offers several tips for how to get yourself feeling calmer, from deep breathing to being out in nature. I think it will be handy to have on hand in a little while! It also gets a tick from me for having the absolute softest fur I’ve seen in any baby book – take that, That’s Not My..!
Together by Emma Dodd
Published in board book by Nosy Crow on 4th April 2021
I’ve previously reviewed Emma Dodd’s Love, which is utterly adorable (find that here), and Together is even cuter! It shows a baby otter and his mummy doing everything together, and the rhyming narration is so sweet it made me tear up. I love Dodd’s art style, and her beautiful illustrations combined with the outpouring of love between the two otters is a winning combination. Any book in this series would make a wonderful gift, and as with Love, the adult otter is only ‘Mummy’ in the blurb, so it would be great to read whatever your relationship. Simply gorgeous.