The ColorFeeling Picture Book Series Written by Esther Adler and Illustrated by Shrutkirti Kaushal

Book Review by Carla M. Paton

I have a background in Child Education and Development and a Masters in Psychology, and I found these books to be quite remarkable. In a world that rewards and prioritizes thinking skills over emotions and feelings, anytime we can encourage children to recognize and process their emotions, we are giving them and ourselves a great gift.

This series, written for ages three to eight, helps children focus on one emotion at a time. One of the ways that the books do this is by associating one color with one feeling per book. For example, in the Angry book, the color focus is red. Red for red-in-the-face, hot-tempered, and other fiery reactions that we see reflected in Lion’s flaming mane and features. Sad is associated with blue, Happy with yellow, and Jealous with green. Another way that the books help children to process their feelings is by showing how emotions express themselves physically. For example, in the Sad book, the blue Dinosaur’s body “feels tired and heavy.”

It is one thing to recognize feelings, and another to cope with them. All of the books demonstrate coping skills. In the second half of each book, the book asks the reader questions to consider such like what happens when they feel jealous, sad, happy, or angry. Then the child reader is given a series of things they can effectively do to work through the emotions in a constructive way. For example, in the Jealous book, the green jealous snake is shown asking Lion, “Can I play with your toy airplane?” and the caption that accompanies this picture is, “When I feel jealous I can ask to share.”

Another method that the books employ for helping children to work with their emotions is to have them work through interactive activities and with the aid of free worksheets. The quiet introspection and thought that the worksheet activities provide will give children a depth of reinforcement beyond the time spent with the colorful, charming characters.

In all the books, children will be happy to see all four of the characters returning and interacting in similar attractive scenes. When Lion, Chick, Dinosaur, and Snake look at themselves in their reflections, and in turn to ask the child reader, “What makes you angry, happy, sad, or jealous?” We can be sure that the question is taken to heart and that the answers will help and heal long after these delightful books are tucked away for the night. In conclusion, I give this book series my highest recommendations.

Trevor Lee and The Big Uh Oh Written by Wiley Blevins Illustrated by Marta Kissi

4.0-4.25 Stars when reading with an adult

2.5-2.75 Stars when reading alone

Trevor Lee is a third-grader trapped in a three-letter world. He has managed to keep his secret from everyone… family, peers, and even teachers are seemingly unaware he is struggling to read. When his teacher announces that all students have to get up on stage and read out loud during Parent’s Night, Trevor knows he is in trouble. There’s no way she will assign him something with small words. Everyone will know he cannot read like they do. He can just imagine how they will laugh and make fun of him? He will do anything to avoid getting up on that stage.

Oh my goodness! What on earth was he going to do? He and his best friend Pinky, try to get him out of it. Sneaky, not so sneaky, one by one their ideas fail. Now with his secret hanging over him like the anvil about to crush poor Coyote’s head in the classic cartoon. He thinks of his beloved Grandmother’s words. “Some days are just bad. You gotta hold your head high and keep moving.” How could this help? The book works its’ way to a heartfelt, satisfying conclusion that will touch each reader differently.

Trevor Lee and The Big Uh Oh is cute without being cutesy and laugh out loud humorous at times. Wiley Blevins’ story is populated by realistic characters 7-10-year-old girls and boys can readily identify with and easily relate too. Many children struggle with basic reading skills. It is important to emphasize everyone learns at their own pace and it’s okay to be on a different level than your friends. However, we do not want to encourage kids to put forth so much effort to avoid learning altogether. I think Trevor Lee and The Big Uh Oh should be read for the first time with an adult. Because it is important kids get the right message. I read the book. Then read it with my seven-year-old granddaughter. When finished I asked her what she thought. She immediately asked, “Nana, why couldn’t Trevor read? Why didn’t his teacher know he couldn’t read? Didn’t his family read with him every day like we do?” She also thought this would be a good book for her class to read together. Sharing this book with her provided me with an opportunity to discuss responsibility, keeping secrets, asking for help, and the importance of practicing. (Why her Nana always says “practice, practice, practice — to get better at anything we have to practice!”)

Happy Reading,

Note: Reading is the foundation upon which all future learning will be built. I strongly recommend reading with your child (grandchild, niece, nephew, etc.) every day. Join one of the many online challenges. There are lists of age-appropriate children’s books available online, as well as, in your local library. Turn reading into an adventure or a game. Children are keen on both. It is recommended that we read a minimum of 15-minutes each night. Take the challenge.