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FEELINGS by Xavier Deneux Kirkus Star


From the TouchThinkLearn series

by Xavier Deneux ; illustrated by Xavier Deneux ; adapted by Christopher Franceschelli

Pub Date: March 9th, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-7972-0379-9
Publisher: Chronicle Books

Evocative, poetic expressions of various emotions wrapped in an innovative tactile package.

It starts with the emotion “joy,” a raised, gloriously yellow die-cut chick cavorting on the left-hand page with a circular die cut serving as both a picture of a shining sun and a recess for the chick to fit into on the right. Though the book’s many raised and indented pieces fit together neatly, they aren’t always exact mirrors of each other—a neat touch. Each double-page spread offers a pair of word clusters, with (in the first one) a joy-inspired word bank first, followed by a second grouping that’s woven loosely together into a poem that actually carries a plot. In “sadness,” which details the “freeze • melt • puddle” demise of a snowman, the die-cut, drippy remains easily communicate the sense of “sob • snuffle • whimper.” Because feelings are so abstract and the vocabulary herein quite high level, with words like grit and cower, this may fly over the heads of the traditional board-book crowd, but perceptive preschoolers should enjoy the challenge of both the poems and the new language. Graphically simple shapes in bold colors are inviting, and some spreads, like one in which two “playful’’ squirrels caper opposite a teary “left out,” friend tell a perfect visual story. Most of Deneux’s risks pay off, like an angry red crayon accompanied by “exasperated” scribbles, but “surprise,” which confronts a mother duck and two ducklings with a hatchling alligator, concludes with an unsettling, conversation-starting “snap!”

An excellent way to broaden children’s preexisting emotional vocabulary.

(Board book. 2-6)