Emotional literacy is important, but this does nothing to help youngsters to achieve it.

AN EMOTIONAL MENAGERIE

FEELINGS FROM A TO Z

An assortment of verses attempts to explain emotions to young readers.

The introductory six-stanza poem, written in an abcb rhyme scheme, sets the stage, announcing the 26 uncredited poems to follow that will describe each emotion in alphabetical order. Its opening stanza introduces the concept of likening emotions to animals, and this concept is carried throughout, with anger represented by a roaring lion, fear as a timid rabbit, and so forth. All the poems speak directly to readers, with details of situations in which they might feel these emotions along with instructions for understanding and dealing with them. The poems are presented in double-page spreads in carefully selected color palettes. The work does not succeed, however, in spite of all good intentions. The introductory poem presents the work as a kind of textbook for establishing the “useful skill” of “mastering emotions” in order to grow up “calm, wise and fulfilled” while also expanding readers’ vocabularies. (In support of the latter goal, key words are underlined, but there is no glossary to turn to for definitions.) The poems shed some light on the complexity of emotions, but concluding advice is often preachy and off-putting, telling readers to make better use of their time or to “move on,” for instance. Tortured rhymes abound, and the underlined vocabulary ranges wildly in difficulty (calm versus ambivalent).

Emotional literacy is important, but this does nothing to help youngsters to achieve it. (Picture book/poetry. 7-12)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-9128912-4-5

Page Count: 60

Publisher: School of Life

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many.

GUTS

Young Raina is 9 when she throws up for the first time that she remembers, due to a stomach bug. Even a year later, when she is in fifth grade, she fears getting sick.

Raina begins having regular stomachaches that keep her home from school. She worries about sharing food with her friends and eating certain kinds of foods, afraid of getting sick or food poisoning. Raina’s mother enrolls her in therapy. At first Raina isn’t sure about seeing a therapist, but over time she develops healthy coping mechanisms to deal with her stress and anxiety. Her therapist helps her learn to ground herself and relax, and in turn she teaches her classmates for a school project. Amping up the green, wavy lines to evoke Raina’s nausea, Telgemeier brilliantly produces extremely accurate visual representations of stress and anxiety. Thought bubbles surround Raina in some panels, crowding her with anxious “what if”s, while in others her negative self-talk appears to be literally crushing her. Even as she copes with anxiety disorder and what is eventually diagnosed as mild irritable bowel syndrome, she experiences the typical stresses of school life, going from cheer to panic in the blink of an eye. Raina is white, and her classmates are diverse; one best friend is Korean American.

With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many. (Graphic memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-545-85251-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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Here’s hoping this will inspire many children to joyfully engage in writing.

WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!

Both technique and imaginative impulse can be found in this useful selection of poems about the literary art.

Starting with the essentials of the English language, the letters of “Our Alphabet,” the collection moves through 21 other poems of different types, meters, and rhyme schemes. This anthology has clear classroom applications, but it will also be enjoyed by individual readers who can pore carefully over playful illustrations filled with diverse children, butterflies, flowers, books, and pieces of writing. Tackling various parts of the writing process, from “How To Begin” through “Revision Is” to “Final Edit,” the poems also touch on some reasons for writing, like “Thank You Notes” and “Writing About Reading.” Some of the poems are funny, as in the quirky, four-line “If I Were an Octopus”: “I’d grab eight pencils. / All identical. / I’d fill eight notebooks. / One per tentacle.” An amusing undersea scene dominated by a smiling, orangy octopus fills this double-page spread. Some of the poems are more focused (and less lyrical) than others, such as “Final Edit” with its ending stanzas: “I check once more to guarantee / all is flawless as can be. / Careless errors will discredit / my hard work. / That’s why I edit. / But I don’t like it. / There I said it.” At least the poet tries for a little humor in those final lines.

Here’s hoping this will inspire many children to joyfully engage in writing. (Picture book/poetry. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68437-362-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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