Selecting a book to review always gives me a good excuse to visit bookshops and browse. I like to go into a bookshop with no clear choice in mind and see what attracts my interest and attention. Browsing picture books is harder because of their shape and size and the issues of displaying. Also during these Covid times when one is advised to only pick up something that you want to buy, it makes book buying for someone like me, who likes to feel the weight and texture of a book before deciding to buy, more challenging.
The Colour Monster drew my attention because of the large expanse of white and its collage style on the front cover. I was also intrigued to find out what a Colour Monster was.
The story is told by a girl who is talking to her friend, the Colour Monster. The Colour Monster is all mixed up and very confused and doesn’t know why. His feelings and his colours are all stirred together. His friend suggests separating out the feelings and their associated colours into different jars so they can look at them more closely. They explore the colours and feelings of happiness, sadness, anger, fear and calm.
The girl helps and supports the Colour Monster.
‘Being afraid can make you feel
Very small and alone. If you’re
Scared, tell me why and we’ll walk
Through the forest together.’
The simplicity of the text alongside the child-like drawings and the collage style is one of the strengths of this story. It is funny and sweet. This story would be incredibly useful to support young children to untangle and label their feelings particularly if they are having difficulties or need additional support. Online there are many resources for parents and teachers to use this book. There is also a board game https://www.kosmosgames.co.uk/games/the-colour-monster/.
The simplicity of the story is a strength but it also raises, like all good picture books so often do, some questions. There has been criticism of the book: by separating out emotions it is suggesting that it is not ‘normal’ to feel lots of emotions at once whereas we often do experience a tangle of feelings.
Labelling emotions as colours can also be problematical as children (and adults) may have different feelings about what colours represent to them. However organising, labelling and understanding feelings is an important first step and this book provides a great start to a lifelong understanding of our emotions and how they interact with each other.
Return to REVIEWS HOMEPAGE