Book review: Isle of You, by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Jaime Kim

LaRochelle, David. Isle of You. Illustrated by Jaime Kim. Candlewick Press, 2018. $16.99. ISBN 9780763691165. Unpaged. Ages 4-8. P7 Q8

Where can children go to feel loved and secure? The Isle of You of course. LaRochelle takes the reader on an adventure to the Isle of You where you have a welcoming committee and you can choose activities you would like. When the sun starts to set, you head back home, knowing you are loved. When you are sad, remember the Isle of You. LaRochelle writes from the second person point of view, inviting the reader/listener to enter into the story. The pastel water illustrations start out with dark pages reflecting a child having a hard day. The child heads to a brightly colored castle across the bay. While the child is at the castle the illustrations are colorful. When the child heads home, the colors are dark again. Children need safe spaces they can go when they are having a hard time. This book introduces a safe space where love is reinforced. The title is a pun, Isle of you, I love you.

Verdict: This is a good read aloud for children who need some support finding a place they can go to where they can leave their worries and find creativity, imagination and love. This book helps children create a positive head space when they have had a hard day.

December 2018 review by Tami Harris.

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Book review: Mad, Mad Bear!, by Kimberly Gee

Gee, Kimberly. Mad, Mad Bear! Beach Lane Books, 2018. $17.99. ISBN 9781481449717. Unpaged. Ages 3-5. P7 Q7

Bear gets mad because he has to leave the park first, then he gets an owie on the way home and has to leave his boots and favorite stick outside. He doesn’t feel it is fair and he gets mad! After he throws a tantrum, he takes a deep breath, has a snack and takes a nap. When Bear wakes up, he feels better. Simple text and large illustrations follow Bear as he goes through the process of getting mad and calming down. Some words are red and large, emphasizing them. Illustrations show Bear’s facial expressions, giving the listener clues to how Bear is feeling. The book is designed to be read to small children.

Verdict: If you have child who gets mad often, this book will provide some simple strategies and show that they can recover from their mad feelings. I recommend this book for small children and public libraries.

November 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: The Wolf Who Learned Self-Control, by Orianne Lallemand, illustrated by Éléonore Thuillier

Lallemand, Orianne. The Wolf Who Learned Self-Control. Éléonore Thuillier. Auzou, 2018. $14.95. ISBN 9782733861479. 31 pages. Ages 4-8. P7 Q7

Wolf, who lives in a forest, has no self-control and his moods changed constantly. Wolf’s friends teach him yoga, running, and baking to help him learn self-control. Wolf gets frustrated and storms off. With the advice of a friend, he apologizes. Wolf then uses the skills he learned to create a celebration for his friends. The illustrations are colorful showing Wolf’s feelings as he learns self-control. This book is in the Wolf series, which is a popular in France. It was first published in France, this is the English version. The end pages show the wolf surrounded in colored squares with different feelings.

Verdict: Children who are learning self-control will benefit from the lessons Wolf learns. Themes of self-confidence and friendship are intertwined in the story.

November 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Feelings, by Libby Walden, illustrated by Richard Jones

Walden, Libby. Feelings. Richard Jones. Tiger Tales, 2018. $16.99. ISBN 9781680100938. Unpaged. 6-8. P7 Q8

Children experience a large variety of feelings. Walden writes, “Inside my heart and in my head, all kinds of feelings dwell. As they spark and bound around, I fall under their spell.” The feelings featured in this rhyming book are brave, sad, angry, happy, jealous, alone, embarrassed, excited, afraid, and calm. Even though you cannot see them, feelings are strong and real. Each feeling is described on two pages, using abstract examples opposed to literal ones. While the book flows, I feel some words are added just to make it rhyme. The text and illustrations use nature and imagination to help describe the various feelings.  There is a cut out in the shape of a child on each page, with the child on the last page. Illustrations are muted tones that match the text.

Verdict: Children will enjoy the description of feelings and illustrations that evoke the feeling described. The expansive imaginative words may be lost on very young children but early elementary aged children should enjoy it. It is a good conversation starter on how the child feels when they are having a certain feeling. It can broaden a child’s understanding on how the feeling feels inside of them.

November 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: You Are Your Strong, by Danielle Dufayet, illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin

Dufayet, Danielle. You Are Your STRONG. Illustrated byJennifer Zivoin. Magination Press, 2019. $17.99. ISBN 9781433829390. Unpaged. Ages 4-8. P8 Q9

When life is difficult, where can one find strength? This beautifully illustrated book explores children experiencing a wide range of feelings including worry, calm, scared, brave, sad, love, mad, gentle, and strong. The book counteracts feelings that cause children to feel uncomfortable with feelings that comfort them. Through adult modeling, children learn how to develop strategies to work through the uncomfortable feeling they experience, so they can find their own “inner strong.” The variety of diverse children and different family members helps this book feel inclusive. Starting with beautiful gold tones on the cover, to richly colored illustrations on quality paper, this book is beautiful and well done. The illustrations match the feeling that is being described. On the sad page, it is raining outside and the page is grey, while the mad page has red tones. It validates children’s feelings and at the same time, gives them strategies to work through the feelings and come to a place of resolution where the child feels more content. When describing Strong, the illustrations are magical, drawing the child in, helping them visualize what a gift their “inner strong” is. The book includes a Note to Parents and Caregivers that explains how parents/caregivers can validate their child’s emotions, pause before problem solving, model coping skills, develop a coping kit, and when they need to seek support.

Verdict: If you want a book that empowers exploration of children’s emotions and at the same time helps them develop self-awareness, internalize strength and then use that strength to promote their own calmness, this is the book for you. I highly recommend this valuable book.

November 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: I’m Sad, by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Black, Michael Ian. I’m Sad. Illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018. $17.99. ISBN 9781481476270. Unpaged. Ages 4-8. P8 Q8

Have you ever been sad and you think you will be sad forever? A large pink flamingo is sad. A child and a potato engage in conversation with the flamingo, helping the flamingo realize that it is okay to feel sad. Together, they explore why sad things happen, what makes others happy, and if they will still be liked if they are sad. The large illustrations accurately show facial expressions, which adds to the simple text. The flamingo’s words are pink, the potato’s words are brown and the child’s words are blue.

Verdict: Children will relate to feeling sad and realize that it is okay to feel sad. Our worth is not tied into how we feel. This book can help adults explain sadness to children in a lighthearted way that gives the child acceptance of his or her feelings. I highly recommend this simple picture book.

June 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Inspector Croc’s Emotion-O-Meter, by Susanna Isern, illustrated by Monica Carretero

Isern, Susanna. Inspector Croc’s Emotion-O-Meter. Illustrated by Monica Carretero. NubeOCHO, 2018. 97 pages. ISBN 978-84-17123-07-9. Ages 6-10. P8 Q9

We all have emotions, but how do we explain those emotions to children so they can fully understand and learn to identify them? Inspector Croc is a specialist on emotions who teaches children how to identify, measure and manage emotions. The book consists of 10 short stories or cases with a section that analyzes each story. The emotion-o-meter, with the 3 levels of intensity for each emotion is very helpful. Emotions include joy, sadness, anger, fear, envy, jealousy, surprise, shame, disgust, and love. Included are recipes for dealing with each emotion. Illustrations include animals and creatures from the short stories. This is not a book that young children will read, but a book for adults to read with children. Great for exploring emotions in a fun and non-threatening way. Explains each emotion, low/medium/high intensity and what each level feels and looks like. Emotions are explained in detail, including what they look like and feel like. The book was originally written in Spanish with the title El Emocionometro del Inspector Drilo.

Verdict: With the explanation of all the emotions, the intensity levels, and the emotion-o-meter, this book is a useful tool to help children learn about their emotions. The back cover of the book has an emotion-o-meter that children can use to identify their level of intensity of each of the emotions. I highly recommend this book for elementary age children.

September 2018 review by Tami Harris.