Four new picture books help kids deal with feelings – USA TODAY
We all can go through hard periods, but kids often find themselves wrestling with a tricky emotion forÂ theÂ first time. Eliot Schrefer looks at four picture books that feature new feelings — and new ways of figuring them out.
The Goodbye Book
Written and illustrated by Todd Parr
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 32 pp.,Â ages 3-6
***Â½ out of four stars
Todd Parr, author ofÂ Itâs Okay to Be Different,Â has carved out a niche for himself as âthe feelings manâ of picture books, and itâs not hard to see why. In glossy, color-saturated pages, weâre introduced to a small fish whoâs lost its companion. As the fish goes throughÂ many reactions to the loss, the text is directed straight at the reader, giving permission for all sorts of feelings: âYou might be very sad. / You might be very mad.â The art is simple and naÃ¯ve, as though Parr loaded up Paint on his computer and started clicking away. With its accessible style and kindhearted text,Â The Goodbye BookÂ will serve kids as aÂ sympathetic friend during trying times.
Thatâs (Not) Mine
Written by Anna Kang, illustrated by Christopher Weyant
Two Lions, 32 pp., ages 2-7
The furry heroes of Anna Kang and ChristopherÂ WeyantâsÂ award-winning You Are (Not) Small are at it again. This time the two cuddly beasts are in competition over who gets access to a comfy reading chair. Thanks to pure white backgrounds, the readerâs eye is drawn again and again to Weyantâs charismatic creations, whose expressive faces convey all levels of envy and outrage. As the battle for ownership of the chair gets more and more physical, the situation (âCan I try it? / No, itâs mine / Please? Just once?â) will resonate with anyone who has siblings or frenemies. Though the bookâs overly tidy resolution comes out of nowhere, dynamic page design and brisk, clear characterizations make this a vibrant addition to any bookshelf.
The Only Child
Written and illustrated by Guojing
Schwartz & Wade Books, 112 pp., ages 5-9
The Only Child is aÂ compelling and melancholy debut from an important new talent. Detailed black-and-white drawings form a wordless narrative of a child, left alone by her parents, who goes off to find her grandmother. At first she travels through a snowy Chinese city, industrial and desolate, until she finds herself stranded in the woods. Then the journey turns mythic, and the art turns joyful. The child meets magical allies and adversaries, such as a stag and a whale, before finally making her way back to her parents. In her authorâs note, Guojing explains that The Only Child came out of her experiences growing up lonelyÂ under Chinaâs (newly reversed) one-child policy. An expansive and ageless book, full of wonder, sadness, and wild bursts of imagination.
Written byÂ David Zeltser, illustrated by Diane Goode
Chronicle Books, 32 pp., ages 3-5
Watch out for Ninja Baby! Little Nina has long been the master in her house. With her quick reflexes and fierce attitude, âChanging time was hand-to-hand combat. / Nina did not like to be helped.â Her ferocious mastery of her household (parents included) is rattled by a welcome narrative wrinkle â the arrival of a new baby, who turns out to be a Kung Fu Master who can âdisarm his captors with a single look.â His presence forces Nina to learn calmness and openness, and elevates Ninja Baby above what would otherwise have been a one-note concept. Diane Goodeâs broad penstrokes and rough watercolors give the book a sophisticated feel; its rakish look and some of the storyâs subtleties might be lost on younger readers.
Eliot Schrefer’sÂ latest book for young readers is Spirit Animals: Immortal Guardians.