A youngster identifies their feelings in Gasperin’s picture book debut.
Toto, an egg-shaped, peach-colored boy, is building with blocks. An unseen narrator asks on each page, “Toto, How do you feel?” Toto responds with a reason for each emotion; at the beginning, the child is curious, excited, and proud of his work; but when the block-project falls apart, he becomes frustrated, mad, confused about what to do next, and finally sad. At the narrator’s urging, Toto takes a deep breath and remembers that he’s loved. This allows him to begin again and eventually reach happiness. Early childhood educator and psychologist Gasperin asserts in an introduction that all emotions are good and stresses the importance of specifically identifying them, rather than simply labeling them positive or negative. Toto goes through the full spectrum of emotions with no judgment; only the narrator’s reminder to breathe, and thus cope, interrupts Toto’s flow, resulting in a positive outcome. The painted illustrations show a very simple yet expressive main character against a range of colors that emphasize the emotional content. The blocks are also impressively solid-looking against the more abstract backgrounds. The limited vocabulary features few very challenging words, and the illustrations give plenty of cues to help identify Toto’s emotions.
A colorful, painterly, and nonjudgmental journey through a range of feelings from a child’s perspective.