Picture Book Reviews: Brave Molly, Fergal and the Bad Temper & more!

We are taking a look at three great picture books today! These titles are all revolving around feelings and emotions (picture book subject areas that are always in-demand!): Brooke Boynton-Hughes’ Brave Molly (courtesy of Raincoast Books); Robert Starling’s Fergal and the Bad Temper (courtesy of Raincoast Books); and Andy Rash’s The Happy Book (courtesy of Penguin Random House Canada). Let’s dive right in!

Brave Molly is a beautifully rendered and affecting wordless picture book written and illustrated by Brooke Boynton-Hughes (Baby Love, written by Angela DiTerlizzi). Our young protagonist, Molly, sits in her bedroom and can see three children reading on a park bench- only, there also appears to be a grey, smoky monster directly in Molly’s line of sight! As we see Molly wrestle with whether or not to approach the group of children- one of whom has dropped a book- the grey monsters multiply and keep multiplying at an alarming rate, no matter how fast and far Molly runs. As the monsters of fear threaten to overpower, Molly takes a mighty stand against it all, lighting the way to a lovely new beginning. How the topic of fear is approached and represented, along with the pacing and sharp wordless narrative structure make Brave Molly a notable and accessible read for younger readers (especially as it also pertains to relatable worries about reaching out to make friends!). While reading Brave Molly, my mind immediately went to Mel Tregonning’s superb wordless picture book/graphic novel Small Things-  an older bookish cousin of sorts if you will- which also launches starting off points to discuss fear as well as anxiety and its complexities. For readers perhaps not quite ready for Tregonning’s book, Brave Molly is just the right pick for exploring/talking with young readers about worries and fears that can, at times, feel insurmountable and isolating.

I received a copy of this title courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own. Title has been published and is currently available.

 

Let’s turn to take a look at Robert Starling‘s picture book debut, Fergal and the Bad Temper. Fergal is, readers learn, a pretty friendly, smiley little dragon…but things take a quick turn for the “fiery” when Fergal is told what to do! Whenever things feel unfair or whenever he is asked or directed to something he does not want to do, Fergal reacts with temper and fire…actual fire-breathing, which unfortunately wrecks (and scorches) things for those around him. When one of Fergal’s fiery outburst puts him on the outs with friends, Fergal learns an important lesson from his mom about learning to take a breath and try to keep fuming and tantrums in check. With bright artwork, an easy-to-follow story and concise, effective text, Fergal and the Bad Temper is a title that could be read aloud to a toddler and/or preschool ages storytime touching upon the subject area of emotions. For those who have explored titles such as Finn Throws a Fit!, Millie Fierce, The Very Cranky Bear, or Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, and are looking for a new, similarly-themed, frank and sweet read, Fergal and the Bad Temper is a solid pick.

I received a copy of this title courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own. Title has been published and is currently available.

 

Last but definitely not least, we have Andy Rash‘s The Happy Book, a real gem of a picture book. Are you familiar with expressions such as happy camper, scaredy cat, or sad trombone? Well, get ready to meet pitch-perfect, on-the-nose, laugh-out-loud depictions of all sorts of feelings! Camper and Clam are having a pretty awesome time together in the Happy Book: the sun is shining, yellow birds are chirping, a friendship cake is baked…and then Clam discovers Camper has eaten all of the friendship cake. Camper spies an open door on a following page that leads to the Sad Book, where Clam and weepy-eyed Trombone are hanging out in the blue. Misadventures and changing feelings lead the cast of characters through the Angry Book, the Scared Book, and finally on to the Feelings Book, for a cool (and thoughtful) party and conclusion. The Happy Book is a super appealing read due to Rash’s vivacious and colourful illustrations in tandem with a sincerely clever, funny (and punny), and reflective story. Readers who have explored titles such as The Feelings Book, Theo’s Mood, Mouse Was Mad, Happy Hippo, Angry Duck, and/or those who are interested in trying a new picture book on the subject of social-emotional learning (…or who might just want a very funny and illuminating read), The Happy Book is a terrific pick.

I received a copy of this title courtesy of Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own. Title has been published and is currently available.

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