A useful picture book for encouraging social-emotional health.
The rhyming text uses direct address to speak to diverse child characters who are experiencing sadness in a range of settings—and by extension, to child readers of the book. A backmatter “Note to Parents and Caregivers” deconstructs the intentions behind different parts of the text to: respond to sadness; normalize sadness; cope with sad feelings; and offer hope. Throughout, Ng-Benitez’s sensitive, engaging illustrations do an excellent job of providing narrative specificity to the general scenarios the text suggests, elevating the book’s aesthetic success as a whole. The text itself is a bit grating with its singsong, faltering cadence, which is at odds with the seriousness of its contents. “We can start just by talking / about why you feel sad. / It may not be all better / but it might not be as bad,” reads one representative stanza on a spread depicting a white-appearing child with downcast eyes in a classroom filled with smiling, diverse peers and sitting before a happy teacher (also white). The picture book’s overt bibliotherapeutic intent will doubtlessly position it as a title suited to counseling sessions and responses to children’s experiences with grief and loss. But readers may also find value in its potential to foster empathy or to pre-emptively address sadness as one of many emotions we all experience.
Validating and soothing. (Picture book. 3-6)