A Book of Feelings by Amanda McCardie and Salvatore Rubbino

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A Book of Feelings by Amanda McCardie and Salvatore Rubbino

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Buy A Book of Feelings by Amanda McCardie and Salvatore Rubbino at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: For Sharing
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Hilary Hawkes
Reviewed by Hilary Hawkes
Summary: A warm, funny, sensitive and perceptive book about feelings. Gorgeously illustrated, it's a book for sharing that will entertain and nurture young children as they discover and explore all the emotions that the characters and all of us have.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 48 Date: September 2015
Publisher: Walker Books
ISBN: 978-1406355994

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Happy, shy, sad, jealous, angry, loved, grumpy… not the names of little dwarves, but just some of the powerful feelings and emotions that affect everyone from time to time. Sam and Kate live with their mum and dad and a dog with a name that I just adore: Fuzzy Bean. They have a typical family life with all the ups and downs and warmth and fun and the occasional chaos that comes with the territory.

Before I even opened it the book looked enticing – nice large hardback format (it's 10 by 10.9 inches) with a lovely matt feel to the cover and shiny letters in the title. The colourful pages are so nicely formatted with short pieces of text arranged around illustrations.

It all starts with the important recognition that Sam and Kate are happy and gives examples of all the fun and cosy things that make them feel like that. But, because they live in the real world, sometimes they feel other emotions too. Like cross or grumpy when they don't want to share, or embarrassed when they end up doing something, well, embarrassing, or shy in a new situation - or scared. (Even the dog is afraid of thunder). Or maybe one of the other family pets dies and everyone feels very upset (which made me feel sad for them too, but I was also relieved that it wasn't Fuzzy Bean who was the subject of the family's back garden funeral).

It's very true that some feelings come and go quite quickly and so equilibrium between siblings is soon restored. A bit of reassurance and a hug and most children can get over minor upsets remarkably quickly can't they? But then there are those more painful or distressing situations that can make you feel, like Sam, all squirmy or even scribbly inside and the book explores examples of some of those harder to heal distresses that can be much more difficult for children to manage. The message for children is that it's ok to feel all kinds of things and that, if you want to, telling someone how you feel can help you feel understood and so much better.

I think books like this are incredibly important and useful for all families. The narrative has a lovely everyday but also honest and open feel to it as it moves sensitively through a series of situations where the children find themselves experiencing different emotions. This is a family that children (and parents) will recognise and empathise with because siblings do squabble and fall out, don't always know how to control or contain their anger - and sometimes they feel too sad to know how to find comfort and they push people away. So it's important to know how to get children to recognise, understand and accept that feelings never mean anything bad or terrible and that loving families and friends can help you through.

I was just thinking how cleverly the author weaves this message through all the everyday emotions when things go carefully a little deeper, looking at a couple of situations that are common occurrences in families or at school and can affect children deeply – namely bullying and parents splitting up.

Feelings can certainly seem a bit overpowering to children at times and I love that the book explains how people's behaviour is connected to their emotions, as this is something that can be confusing. For example, people can cry for all sorts of reasons, but it might not mean they're really sad. They might be tired or, like Kate, just having an off day and not sure how she feels. As for us grown-ups – well, we mums can even cry when we're feeling happy or proud of our children can't we? And then there are the times when we get cross and in a panic and tell children off in a loud stern voice, not because we are angry, but because we can see they might be putting themselves in danger.

So this book is immensely useful for parents to snuggle up and share with their children, or for a teacher to read to a group of young children. It's a good way to nurture or help in a non-intrusive way. At the end the author suggests some ways in which the story can be used to encourage children to open up about their feelings when they are ready to – and she wisely recognises that some children will prefer to just talk about the characters' feelings or, in fact, for now to just think.

The illustrations on every page are totally gorgeous and I love the style and the detail in the pictures which will, I'm sure, provide endless opportunities for talking and discussion. It's occurred to me that the expressions on the characters' faces and their depicted body language could be especially useful for pointing out and explaining to children who find understanding facial expressions or body language difficult too. There is a lot of gentle humour in the pictures that made me smile. I had to love the cosy picture of the family having breakfast in bed all together with Fuzzy Bean allowed in the room too and the one of Sam hauling a big box up to his Dad who is holding the new baby. Well, new things can generally be returned if you change your mind can't they?

Just one other thing that I was really glad to notice and want to mention is that, in keeping with the current demand for more diversity in children's books, the illustrations show a racially diverse range of characters.

I got the feeling that this author and illustrator really understand children and have created a carefully thought out, perceptive, sensitive and well-written book that little ones will find fun, enjoyable and nurturing. A book to keep and a really useful addition to any family or classroom library. I can see it being a very helpful resource for counsellors or other professionals working with young children's emotional or behavioural health too.

Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears by Emily Gravett is another book for young children that deals with emotions and feelings.

Buy A Book of Feelings by Amanda McCardie and Salvatore Rubbino at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Book of Feelings by Amanda McCardie and Salvatore Rubbino at Amazon.co.uk


Buy A Book of Feelings by Amanda McCardie and Salvatore Rubbino at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Book of Feelings by Amanda McCardie and Salvatore Rubbino at Amazon.com.

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