Big Feelings

Big Feelings
Rebekah Ballagh
Allen & Unwin

Author/illustrator Rebekah Ballagh has drawn on her skills as a counsellor to create a book to help develop children’s emotional literacy and better manage their feelings. Combining storytelling, illustration and child-friendly strategies, she uses fourteen child characters to help explore fourteen different emotions. Written in verse, each story introduces a character whose emotion has an effect on the body and then explains what to do about it.

For example, Charlie is feeling very anxious: reading in class scares him; he’s frightened of monsters and of getting into trouble. He has a sinking feeling in his tummy, but by breathing slowly and talking to his teddies, he gradually calms himself.

Chloe feels angry: she stamps and stomps, slams doors and shouts at her brother; her anger is showing her that something hasn’t gone her way or perhaps she’s feeling sad. That’s okay she needs to acknowledge the feeling and diffuse that anger. Chloe does, first by naming it and then actively; she might breathe slowly and count, or jump around and throw pillows at the wall.

With each character, the author not only helps expand children’s emotional vocabulary; she also empowers them by showing examples of how better to cope with these feelings in everyday life. She makes it clear though, it’s not about fixing feelings, it’s fine just to sit quietly and let them be. ‘Feelings are messages from the heart sent here to help you. So listen close and take a breath, they’ll show you what to do.’ If you know why, you’ll likely know what …

The second part of the book offers tools and resources to aid adults in supporting the mental wellbeing of youngsters.

Bright, expressive illustrations, including a bee to find on each spread, help ensure Rebekah’s wisdom and understanding enables both children and adults to get the most from the book. It’s one to use both at home and in primary classrooms.

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