This winter has been an usually cold and wet one in Los Angeles. For me, the unexpected rains and cooler temperatures are a welcome change, our Earth definitely needs all the replenishment it needs after the scorching summer heat. But I also find myself with the winter blues, cooped up inside longer than I’m used to. It made me realize how different circumstances or changes in our lives affect our emotions and well-being. This month, I’m featuring a few picture books by author/illustrators who focus on the different feelings we all experience, diving a bit deeper than just the happy feelings picture books often create.
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day earlier this month, I gravitated towards Love Monster, written and illustrated by Rachel Bright. We can all relate to feeling lonely and not quite belonging and Bright creates an “unlovable” monster with this exact dilemma. Poor Monsters just wants to fit in, but he’s hairy and too googly-eyed to make friends. Bright’s expressive linework and use of a fun and irregular font add a unique style to Monster’s feelings of loneliness. But like many picture books about finding friends, readers will enjoy seeing even Monster can find someone to befriend and accept him just the way he is.
The Happiest Book Ever written and illustrated by the “friendly author” Bob Shea is a refreshing take on a seemingly happy book. The bright colors and collage style illustrations fill each page with energy popping off each page. The narrator’s voice is snazzy and commands attention, like the life of the party, while the glum toad seems to ruin all his fun. With plenty of happy, dancing animals and shapes to explore on each page, Shea also creates tension with his dynamic use of color. Young readers will connect to the range of emotions and the interactive nature of The Happiest Book Ever.
No Fits Nilson written and illustrated by Zachariah Ohora puts a fun spin on the tantrums all of us can experience, especially someone like me who deals with the horrendous driving and the L.A. traffic. In Ohora's signature animated style, a little girl and her gorilla friend experience the consequences of losing their tempers and try to figure out the best way to handle not losing their cool.
Whether you're feeling the love from this month's Valentine's Day or trying to kick the winter blues, I hope these picture books offer you a different perspective on all the emotions and the enjoyable ways illustrations express them.
Sarah Momo Romero is a Japanese Peruvian American artist, a graphic designer by day and children's book author and illustrator by night. She’s loved drawing and painting since she was a chiquita and now crafts stories of adventure and wondrous creatures. Sarah is an active SCBWI member who draws inspiration from her life in sunny Los Angeles with her husband/creative partner and dog/infamous escape artist, Peanut. Her debut picture book, "Wake Up, Little Bat!" is out now through Clear Fork Publishing!
You can find more of Sarah's musings and drawings here:
www.sarahmomoromero.com Facebook: Sarah Momo Romero + Instagram: @sarahmomoromero + Twitter: @sarahmomoromero