How Do You Feel? : Entertaining Emotions in Picture Books

I was going to come up with a couple examples of when my boys were really grouchy or ornery or just plain restless—there are plenty to choose from!  And though I don’t think they make a habit of reading this blog, their Aunt Faye and cousin Stephanie do—so maybe I’ll just go straight to some entertaining picture books about restless and ornery and grouchy characters.

Big snowBig Snow by Jonathan Bean. 9780374306960. 2013. Gr PS-1.

A little boy stands on the yellowing grass in the middle of his backyard, holding on to a sled, gazing at the gray sky, and just waiting. Running back inside, he asks his mom, over and over, “Is it going to snow?” “Is it going to snow soon?” “Will it cover the grass?” Each time she answers, “I think so” and suggests that he help her out while he’s waiting.  But everything he sees, from flour to soap suds to the new white sheets, reminds him of snow—and out he goes to check on the weather. Finally she convinces him to take a nap, but even asleep his mind is full of snow.  This is a sweet winter story about anticipation.

CarnivoresCarnivores by Aaron Reynolds. 9780811866903. 2013. Gr K-2.

It’s lonely at the top…at the top of the food pyramid, that is.  The lion knows that the gazelles are whispering behind his back.  The shark knows that the other fish are gossiping about his feeding frenzies—but hey, he’s just a fast eater.  And the wolf—well, that story about the girl in the red cape—that was just a one-time thing.  So these top predators start a self-help group to share their feelings.  They try to go vegetarian.  They wear disguises so they will blend in with their prey. Nothing works, until the wisest carnivore they know comes to their meeting with an empowering slogan :  “I’m not bad. I’m a carnivore. Eating meat is just what I do.” Carnivores is a funny story about accepting yourself, and the illustrations are delicious.

CrankensteinCrankenstein by Samantha Berger. 9780316126564. 2013. Gr PS-1.

Have you seen Crankenstein this morning?  Well, you’d know if you had!  Because when Crankenstein isn’t happy, everybody can hear it.  He says, “MEHHRRRR!” when he has to get up, and when there is no syrup for his pancakes.  He says, “MEHHRRRR!” when it rains, or it’s too cold, or when the hot sun melts his popsicles.  Especially when the hot sun melts his popsicles.  Sometimes you might think Crankenstein is here for good!  But there’s one thing that make him smile…maybe even laugh…at least for a while.  There should be an award for Best Crabby Faces, just so Dan Santat could win it for his depiction of the ultimate grouchy little boy.

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