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.