Picture Book Snob
A first book of feelings
The Colour of Happy by Laura Baker and Angie Rozelaar
What's it about?
A little boy finds a dandelion while out for a walk with his dog. As he loses it and catches it again, we take a tour through his responses to his changing circumstances. Happiness, sadness, anger, envy, excitement, pride and love are represented by different colours, which allows the boy to express himself and helps the reader to relate to him.
What can we learn?
The Colour of Happy validates every emotion and offers explanations for why each one might arise. It emphasises the temporary nature of our feelings and shows how they can easily be transformed. This story also empowers the reader as it suggests their own actions, such as going for a walk or giving a gift, can affect their emotions too.
By demonstrating how sharing improves the boy's mood, this promotes kindness and compassion. This book encourages empathy as children can identify with the boy in the story. It's also an original and inventive introduction to colours.
What makes this story stand out? The Colour of Happy is a bright and cheerful book that gently helps children build an emotional vocabulary. The language is simple and soothing, with lots of repetition, making it perfect for little readers. It's suitable from a very young age as the striking images, with plenty of black and white as well as colour, will appeal to babies and toddlers. There's also plenty to engage older readers and my 5.5-year-old still enjoys looking at this book.
About those illustrations...
I love how playful, childlike, and full of life, the illustrations are. Despite being simple and uncluttered, they are remarkably communicative. They flow wonderfully with the text and capture all of its dynamism and excitement. There's an interesting use of pattern and the fabulously fluffy dandelions look every bit as magical as they might seem to a young person.
Why we love it...
The rhyming text is as gentle as it is lively, and ideal for bedtime. This is a fantastic text for opening up discussions about the previous day's events and emotional experiences. It's also a beautiful celebration of what it is to be alive, and shows how even a humble weed can be transformed into a treasure.
Why you need it...
Emotions can be confusing for young people. This book helps children to understand and articulate the broad spectrum of what they might be feeling. The gorgeous illustrations make the story even more uplifting and compelling, and this would be a fantastic classroom resource too.
About the author:
Laura Baker is a freelance writer and children's book editor with lots of award-winning credits to her name. I Love You When... was featured on CBeebies Bedtime Stories. Laura's latest book is Inspiration is Here which is a collection of over 50 indoor activities for age 8 and upwards. This sounds like essential reading for life in lockdown!
About the illustrator:
Angie Rozelaar is the creator of Planet Cat Studio and as well as working on beautiful picture books, has designed a variety of textiles, calendars and jigsaws. Angie has even collaborated on a children's clothing range with Zara! We also love Artsy Cats and We're Going on a Pumpkin Hunt and browsing Angie's Etsy store.
The Colour of Happy was published by Hodder Children's Books in 2019, see this book on on the publisher's website.
See more books exploring emotions reviewed by Picture Book Snob