Big Feelings by Alexandra Penfold, illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman


Big Feelings by Alexandra Penfold, illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman. Alfred A. Knopf, 2021. 9780525579748

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4.5

Genre:  Picture book

What did you like about the book? A diverse group of kids finds a vacant lot containing a lovely tree with a bunch of garbage piled around it. Feelings about what to do with the space are the subject of this picture book about exploring emotions. The rhyming text is spare, but the mixed media illustrations carry the weight and are full of joy and expression. Readers will enjoy pointing out all of the diversity – skin colors show kids who are Black, Brown, White and Asian; one child uses a wheelchair and another uses a white cane; there’s a girl in a hijab, a boy with a Sikh patka and another wearing a yarmulke; some kids are gender non-binary and there’s a set of twins. What a lovely display of the many ways we can be. A small black dog watches the activity, as kids’ feelings differ as to how to clean the lot, what to do with the large tire, and how to dispose of the junk.

End pages offer a before and after scene of an urban neighborhood, with the front showing kids gazing at one another, and at the end they are waving, having accomplished a big project together. The dust jacked has a great poster on the verso, showing the kids from the story modeling 15 differing emotions – a nice resource for a kindergarten classroom or a daycare center.

Anything you didn’t like about it? I just wished the text could have been as robust and awesome as the illustrations.

To whom would you recommend this book?  For ages 4-7, with dialogic reading to amplify the story. A lovely story to illustrate collaboration.

Who should buy this book? Day care centers, elementary school and public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Picture books/parenting collections

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: May 11, 2021

This entry was posted in *Book Review, *Picture Book, Alexandra Penfold, Creativity, Emotions, Empathy, Feelings, Multicultural, Rhyming, Suzanne Kaufman and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.