Emotions are so critical to childhood that there’s always room for a bright new book about them.
With blue overalls, a green sweater, yellow sneakers and a trademark Browne primate face, this toddler-shaped chimp really catches the eye. He (or perhaps she, skipping the usual girl-markers like long hair) looks up at an unseen speaker, who asks, “How do you feel?” The young chimp demonstrates various feelings: “Sometimes I feel very happy… / and sometimes I feel sad”; sometimes confident, guilty, angry, silly, shy or worried. Browne uses scale, hue, facial expression and minimalist backgrounds to make each watercolor-and-gouache picture fetching in its own way. “[B]ored” shows a black-and-white spread, toys banished to a corner, mouth open in a blasé yawn. “[L]onely” shows young chimp small and far away, isolated in a vast white spread, casting a fragile shadow. On the royal-blue “sad” page, the young chimp gazes miserably out a window while raindrops fall indoors, symbolically. The last three feelings—hungry, full and sleepy—shift from emotional to physical but are certainly relevant. A final spread shows thumbnail reprints for kids to point to and name as they answer the query, “How do YOU feel?”
For a younger audience than Browne’s brilliantly dark, subtle pieces, this is a hearty, cheerful offering that appropriately refrains from undermining the non-cheerful emotions. (Picture book. 1-4)