Book Reviews: Picture books that focus on feelings and emotions

This months Picture books looks at feelings and emotions that may be a difficult discussion with small children.

Dancing with Memories

by Sally Yule, illus. Cheryl Orsini, pub. ABC Kids Imprint, h/b RRP$15.99. Ages 4+

(with Professor Ralph Martins and Maggie Beer)

This delightful and moving book looks at Alzheimer’s, from a grandparent’s point of view. It’s a picture book that follows and looks at changes that can happen as Alzheimer’s progresses into forgetfulness. Lucy is going to her granddaughter’s wedding but there are little problems along the way. There are some Q & A’s with Professor Ralph and Healthy recipes from Maggie Beer included + some of the funds from the sale of the book goes to Alzheimer’s research.

I live with dementia

I wish I didn’t but I do

My brain has changed

But I am still Lucy

Thank goodness I have a brain

AND a heart

It’s so unusual to find a picture book that talks about dementia to littlies like Dancing with Memories.


Storm Goliath

by James Sellick, illus. Craig Shuttlewood, pub. New Frontier H/b RRP$26.99 Ages 3+

Goliath is a gorilla living in a magical forest, with a nasty temper. His mood swings wildly from happy to very angry.  And his forest friends do not like it! Noisy birds, a whining warthog and a parrot that copies everything he says. Eventually, Goliath learns a way to control his temper, much to the amazement of the forest animals.

This story about feelings is imaginatively illustrated by Craig Shuttlewood showing that anger can be tamed if you try hard enough.

Goliath got angry ALL the time. Anything and anyone could spark off his rages. Some sweet singing … a croc crunching … a birthday party …
Then, Goliath has an idea how to control his anger. His new theory is soon put to the test by the world’s worst parrot.


11 Words for Love

by Randa Abdel-Fattah, illus. Maxine Beneba Clarke, pub Hachette Lothian Books Imprint H/b RRP $24.99. Ages 3+

There are eleven words for love, and my family knows them all.

This unusual book is written in Arabic and English and follows a refugee family fleeing their homeland to find safety in another country, carrying little more than a suitcase full of love.

In the Arabic language, there are over 50 words describing the degrees of love. That’s 50 stories, 50 life-worlds. This book takes you on a story using 11 of these Arabic expressions for love.


Charlie’s Whale

by Libby Gleeson and illus. Hannah Sommerville, pub. Hachette Lothian Books Imprint, RRP $24.99. Ages 3+

Charlie loves whales. Minke whales, orcas, beluga whales and humpbacks, sperm whales and right whales, and especially the great blue whale. Charlie and his friends love the sea and the beach but his obsession with whales is not satisfied until one day, watching the horizon for hours, he sees one at last.

Charlie loves the sea.

He loves the seashells and the seahorses, the sharks and the stingrays, the crabs and the crayfish. 

He loves the gentle waves that creep up onto the sand and tickle his toes.

He loves the huge wild waves that crash onto the sand and make the beach tremble.

But most of all he loves the whales.


Finding You

by Robert Vescio illus. Hannah Sommerville. pub. New Frontier H/b RRP$26.99 Ages 3+

Another delightfully written story from Robert Vescio, beautifully illustrated by Hannah Sommerville (see Charlie’s Whale above). There is an underlying theme in this story which seems to be about a small boy and his dog on an adventure – or not. It also mirrors the story of  how a newcomer might feel roaming and lost and choosing whether to take the dark and cold or the light and colourful ‘road’ until you find the perfect place to live.


Be Careful, Xiao Xin!

by Alice Pung, illus. by Sher Rill Ng, pub. HarperCollins, H/b RRP $24.99. Ages 4+

This unusual book by Alice is richly illustrated by Sher Rill Ng.  It is written in English and Simplified Chinese and follows a dilemma for many families wanting to do the best to keep kids safe. Xiao Xin (translates as Be Careful) wants to be a real red fire warrior but his family are always stopping him constantly saying “be careful” (of the danger), whereas Xiao Xin really want to be brave and do some things by himself.

They don’t understand what I can do!

They don’t understand what I can be!