Monday, March 25, 2013

Shelf Life [kids]

Shy Spaghetti and Excited Eggs: A Kid’s Menu of Feelings, by Marc Nemiroff and Jane Annunziata, 46 pages.

Adults don’t always have an easy time dealing with emotions such as frustration, anger, stress and sadness. Consider then, how difficult it must be for young children to express and cope with – or even to identify and understand - their feelings and emotions.
Shy Spaghetti and Excited Eggs: A Kid’s Menu of Feelings, by clinical psychologists Marc Nemiroff and Jane Annunziata, was written to help children and their parents with the complex topic of emotions.
The book explains how children can label and discuss feelings as foods on a menu (“excited eggs”, “angry apples”, “worried watermelon”, “shy spaghetti”, “confused cupcakes”, “happy hot dogs”, “sad spinach”, etc.).  
Next, the authors address each emotion individually, giving explanations and practical coping suggestions in reassuring, easy-to-understand language.
For example, “Sad is when you don’t feel happy inside. Sad is when you can’t think of things to make you smile. When you’re sad, it’s hard to have fun and you don’t have a lot of energy. That’s because you can feel sad in your whole body.”   To cope, we need to “move the sad feelings from inside us to outside of us” by telling someone (even a pet) how we feel, drawing our sad feelings, using toys to play out sad feelings, doing some exercise that moves the entire body, or thinking instead about things that make us happy.
The emotional response of a parent to a situation will of course influence their child’s emotions, and advice for parents is included at the end of this excellent book.
Children’s emotional development is closely aligned to their social development, academic achievement and even health. The U.S. Department of Health (Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Centre) states, “Children who have a strong foundation in emotional literacy tolerate frustration better, get into fewer fights, and engage in less self-destructive behavior than children who do not have a strong foundation. These children are also healthier, less lonely, less impulsive, more focused, and they have greater academic achievement.”

** Recommended for children aged 3 to 8 years, and for parents, grandparents, educators and others who work with children.

Crabby Pants, by Julie Gassman, 32 pages.
Who hasn’t been called “Crabby Pants” at some time or other?
Author Julie Gassman, a mother of three, addresses crabbiness in a clever new tale for children.
Roger, a preschooler, gets crabby often – when he can’t go to the zoo, when he misses his television program, or when the family runs out of his favourite foods.  When he feels crabby, Roger is unpleasant to everyone in the house and sometimes he misbehaves.
Roger isn’t sure why he becomes so very crabby.
While sitting in the “naughty chair” one day, he has an “aha” moment. Perhaps his pants are responsible for his “crabby pants” feelings!
When Roger comes up with an original solution to this revelation, his mother definitely isn’t pleased.
Roger’s second solution annoys the entire family, and the story concludes with everyone feeling and looking very crabby.
Children will sympathize with Roger, and the rather open-ended conclusion to this story can serve as a “springboard” for a discussion of what he could have done differently.
This highly entertaining story is matched with equally entertaining illustrations that portray the amusing facial expressions of Roger and his family.

** Recommended for ages 3 to 6 years.

This review appears in The Stratford Gazette on March 21, 2013. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

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