This probing psychological journey makes for an exciting exploration in empathy.

This Dutch import pairs portraits with poetry to articulate wrenching individualism, yearning, humor, desires, and pathos.

Transfixing faces—mostly pale, all moon-shaped and with unsettlingly wide-set eyes—conjure mildly unnerving sensations in readers, who will seek to understand, empathize, or at least interpret their expressions. These faces aren’t posing or posturing; they’re flat on the page, laid bare. Older children and teens, in particular, keenly aware of feelings, faces, and masks, will dwell upon these ambiguous, baffling visages. Colmer’s sensitive translation emerges as crucial, as the pictures’ powerful poignancy begs for explanation. Voiced in the first person, one of Tellegen’s poems appears opposite each portrait, expressing the characters’ deeply personal wishes and ringing with their unique phrasing and particular timbre. “I wish happiness was a thing and I / found it somewhere and took it home with me,” confides Carl, one of the book’s few kids of color. Piero, a white boy, grumbles, “I would like first of all to express my sincere thanks / to whoever gave me my looks. / I mean: IN-sincere. / Because I look horrible.” The kids’ names are printed close to the book’s gutter, bridging language and art. These many portraits and poems beg to be leafed through and read in several sittings, as they house too much emotional energy to digest in one read.

This probing psychological journey makes for an exciting exploration in empathy. (Picture book/poetry. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-939810-32-8

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Elsewhere Editions

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020



Facile pop-psychology from a clinical psychologist with the credentials to know better. Assigning a chapter each to a select range of feelings—nearly all of them painful or negative ones, such as guilt, fear or anger, with but one shorter chapter allotted to the likes of love and joy—Lamia offers generalizations about what emotional responses look and feel like, typical circumstances that might cause them to arise and superficial insights (“Negative or worried thoughts spoil a good mood”). She also offers bland palliative suggestions (“Forgive yourself and move on”), self-quizzes, sound-bite comments in the margins from young people and, in colored boxes labeled “Psych Notes,” relevant research abstracts from cited but hard-to-obtain professional sources. Aside from a mildly discouraging view of “Infatuation,” she isn’t judgmental or prescriptive, but her overview is so cursory that she skips the stages of grief, makes no distinction between disgust and contempt and barely takes notice of depression. Teens and preteens might come away slightly more self-aware, but they won’t find either motivation or tools to help them cope with major upset. (Self-help. 12-16)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4338-0890-6

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2010



A smart, accessible introduction to an important and interesting topic.

The way humans use nonverbal cues—sometimes willingly, sometimes accidentally—is explored in a lively presentation for young readers.

“Scientists say more than half our communication is conveyed nonverbally through body language. From head to toe, our bodies say volumes about our thoughts, attitudes, and feelings—whether we want them to or not,” the book opens. Often, spoken messages are undermined by physical posture and gestures that convey opposite information. Practically every part of the human body contributes meaning, sometimes without the individual’s awareness. Eye contact, body position, facial expressions, touch, foot movement and even the way voices are used transmit as much as spoken words. Observing nonverbal cues increases understanding in communication and provides strategies for handling tense situations. Jackson joins with body-language expert Goman to explain the subject, demonstrating its importance as young people grow and develop. Using examples teens will recognize—young people struggling with stage fright, a teen twisting her hair nervously, young athletes avoiding the gaze of the coach—makes the narrative particularly accessible. The chapter on the cultural roots of body language, including differences in personal space, is especially compelling. The bright, open design with its use of sidebars and smart selection of supporting photographs goes well with the conversational style.

A smart, accessible introduction to an important and interesting topic. (source notes, glossary, further reading and viewing, index) (Nonfiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4677-0858-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Twenty-First Century/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Feb. 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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