Inconsistency may be the greatest curse in the culinary world, and the fictional Feelings Restaurant suffers from it.
A menu of emotions (lonely lettuce, angry apples and sorry steak, to name a few) introduces tips for children to healthily address their behavioral responses. Catchy recommendations capture attention, and there’s some truth to be found in the bubbly assertions (“the more you worry, the bigger your worries get!”) Refreshingly, this book offers an appropriately complex exploration. With professional background in clinical psychology, the authors address techniques for families to implement, including counting and breathing exercises, when emotions or negative thoughts overwhelm. The nonjudgmental tone is unfailingly positive, but it’s a shame when the voice veers into patronizing territory. “We’re ALL full of feelings. …but they’re not always easy. That’s why kids need help figuring them out.” Generalizations are unavoidable at this level, but they lead to oversimplification by stereotyping children’s preferences. Repeated exhortation to seek adult support feels more condescending than encouraging (“grown-ups know the most facts of all”), with this same sentiment echoed in the lengthy parents’ note. Bland design elements bog down the animated food, even the sulky cupcakes and boogieing eggs. These light spreads lack the vibrant colors expected in a robust kitchen.
Overall, a varying presentation turns self-help sour. (Informational picture book. 4-8)