Feelings Are Wild
A & U Children’s, 2023
24pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99
One koala feels grumpy
His naptime was too short.
Two bunnies feel nervous
What if they get caught?
As our little ones become more independent they not only begin to feel a variety of emotions but also begin to recognise and identify a range of them, some of which can be a bit scary if they are made to feel ashamed or guilty for expressing them. So this charming picture book (which is also a counting book) helps them understand that not only are these emotions normal, they are common and experienced by everyone so they, themselves, are no different from their siblings or their friends.
Read together with an adult, they can be encouraged to look at the illustrations to work out what the characters are doing and describe how they might be feeling, thus recognising and describing situations where they might have felt a similar feeling as well as extending their vocabulary and starting to understand cause and effect. Having the characters as animals puts the events at arm’s length so they have the choice about whether they share a similar situation or not. Such opportunities help them learn to articulate their feelings rather than throwing frustration-driven tantrums because they don’t have the words, as well as teaching them that it is OK to talk about all sorts of feelings. Not every sentence has to start with “I am happy when…”
But what sets this book apart from the many that describe and acknowledge emotions generally, is that having raised the issue that raised the emotion, it then revisits the animals to see how it was resolved. So the child learns that while having the “big feelings” is normal, they can be turned around and only last for a short time.
IMO, young children can never hear the message that they are OK, that they are normal and just like everyone else often enough and this is a book that helps underpin that.