By Sofia Jesus

“Inside my heart and in my head, all kinds of feelings dwell. / As they spark and bounce around I fall under their spell. / Sometimes I want to cry and stomp and really cause a scene / and other times I laugh and smile — what do these feelings mean?”*

We live in contradicting times: technology allows you to express thoughts and emotions anytime anywhere, and yet it seems we are spending less time showing one another how we really feel, hugs and all, emojis aside.

Regardless of technological advances, speaking about our feelings has always been challenging. Understanding what goes one inside us is even harder. And so is understanding others’ emotions. Especially when you’re a child.

Feelings Inside My Heart And In My Head, beautifully written in rhymes by Libby Walden and amazingly illustrated by Richard Jones, is a book aimed at helping children — and adults, why not? — to do all that. The authors take us on a journey through different emotions: courage (when heading for a mountain top you face challenges, but in the end you get to see a spectacular view); sadness (a bursting river); rage (a vulcano hidden deep inside that eventually erupts); joy (dancing on the sand under a warm sunshine, hearing music and laughter); envy (an emerald-coloured fog that keeps you from seeing other things); loneliness (up to the turquoise sky you go, inside a bubble, away from all those who do not look at you or listen to you); shame (when the heat of the moment reddens your face, the air is silent and all you can hear is your heartbeat, and wish you could disappear); excitement (waiting for fireworks in a cool Autumn night); fear (running through the middle of trees unsure of the way, not daring to look back, as you feel you may not be alone); and calm (a boat floating in a serene blue sea, where you sigh in peace).

In the end, the authors offer a message on how people are different, feel different things, and colour the world with those feelings. All we need to do is try to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes once in a while, to try to understand them, for even if sometimes emotions cannot be seen, they are “strong and real”.

I only read the book in Portuguese, but I have to say the translation and adaptation — by Catarina Florindo — is very good, as the rhymes work wonderfully. The sweet, pastel-like drawings — on which you can learn more here — make you dream. And the fact that the book is cut out in the middle and you see a little boy through the hole every time you turn the page is, to me, a wonderful metaphor for this adventure inside us, and inside one another.

For this is a book that will be even more special if read together with the child, opening doors for dialogues, sharing, discovering, and all that love is all about.


*Quotation from the original English-language book extracted from here.


Feelings Inside My Heart And In My Head

Richard Jones | Libby Walden

Caterpillar Books, 2016

[Portuguese edition: Sentimentos dentro do meu coração e na minha cabeça, by Edicare Editora, 2016]