Faber, January 2022
Author-illustrator Sarah Christou has created a beautiful story based on her own childhood experiences to help little people cope with big emotions. There are lots of reasons to love this book, but here are our top ten...
1. It encourages children to open up about their feelings
2. It shows that all emotions are valid and it's OK to feel anxious or sad
3. It lets readers know they're not alone and that they don't have to experience sadness or anxiety by themselves
4. It gently explains that feelings are all part of a spectrum
5. It emphasises how our emotions aren't static and that they don't define us
6. It uses child-friendly metaphors like monsters and rainbows to explain overwhelming emotions and how they are a part of life
7. It helps readers develop skills that will benefit them throughout their lives
8. It uses everyday scenarios that children will recognise, and to which they can easily relate, to introduce more complex concepts
9. It features inclusive and diverse characters
10. The illustrations are gorgeous and the pastel palette is extremely comforting, as is the font
My five-year-old knew instantly, even the first time we read this, that the blue monster was "how she is feeling". Both kids loved seeing the picture that the main character had drawn of the monster themselves, especially as it appeared more than once, and they found the monster getting its hair done hilarious.
One aspect I found interesting was that we never see the face of the main character's parent or guardian, or any of the other adults in the story, but we can always see the blue monster, and its expressions clearly. The faces of the children in the story are always visible too. This reflects how a child's emotions can be a more powerful and palpable presence than other people.
This also demonstrates how adults can seem a million miles away to a child who is having difficulty expressing themselves or understanding what they are experiencing. There is something about the protagonist letting go of their parent or guardian's hand when the monster descends at the bus stop that I find particularly heartbreaking. That said, this is a remarkably hopeful and reassuring story that is ideal for helping children to identify and cope with their feelings.
Blue by Sarah Christou is published by Faber on January 16, 2022 - see this book on the publisher's website Thanks so much to the lovely people in Faber for sharing this book with us in advance of its publication - all opinions expressed are our own.