Five books to explore: anger, fear, jealousy and friendship

In this blog I highlight some my favourite picture books and hybrid graphic novels which can help children and young people explore theirs and others feelings and emotions. With a focus on: anger, frustrations, jealousy, fear and friendship. 

Barbara Throws a Wobbler by Nadia Shireen 

Another fantastic picture book by Nadia Shireen. Great for 3 to 12 years. 


Barbara’s day doesn’t get off to the best of starts. I love how this story shows to the reader how bad moods can created by lot’s of little things building up. For example not being able to find the right sock, too many cracks on the pavement. The final straw is when Barbara drops her ice-cream and she throws a Wobbler.


Her friends try to help her but she doesn’t want to know. Then the Wobbler starts talking to her and she realises she is the one that can control it and she uses humour to diffuse the situation. The shape and size of the Wobbler is used to great effect to visually demonstrate her mood and it shrinks when she calms down. 


There is a really useful guide to ‘bad moods’ at the end of the book. 

A great book to help children understand their own and others changing moods, and am sure grown-ups will find this books useful too!


An Empathy Lab 2022 Read. 


Tomorrow by Nadine Kaadan

Highly recommend for ages 7 years to adult 


This books will help children and adults understand about war and refugees and in the context of the conflict in Ukraine is very relevant to right now. It take a more usual perspective, focusing on a boy in his own country as his home is besieged by war. Part of the story explores his frustrations about not being able to go outside to school and to the park, which has parallels of UK experience with lockdowns and self-isolation. 


The book makes superb use of the way it positions the boy and his mum and the buildings, and of the colours:, yellow(hope), red (anger/fear) and black (sadness and despair to convey a range of emotions in a visual way that will help the reader to understand them.


A great book to explore issues and a range of emotions in KS2 and KS3. 


When I first reviewed this book in 2018. I thought it was more suited to Upper Key Stage two, but I’ve change my mind.  In May 2020, my son was in year 4.  As we headed towards end of May, after half a term of lockdown things were starting to fall apart. Reading Tomorrow together in our summer house in our garden helped me and my son. When I explained to him how the author/illustrator had used different colours to communicate different feelings he was able to empathise with the boy, but he was also able to better understand his own emotions and feelings. 


Bumble and Snug and the Angry Pirates by Mark Bradley

There is so much to love about this hybrid graphic novel for 5 to 11 year olds. 


Mark Bradley has created an imaginative colourful world called Bugbopolis. With two great characters, called Bumble and Snug. These friends are polar opposites of each other in terms of their tolerance of noise, how outgoing they are and self-confidence. 


Wrapped up in an adventure mission, that includes angry pirates and a few disasters. The two little monsters with Big Feelings have to work together to find their way home and learn something about themselves and others along the way. 


The clever way the story is written will hook children in, whilst the subtle messages about managing anger and friendships leave plenty to discuss with older readers.


It got a big thumbs up from my 11 year old. 


An Empathy Lab 2022 read. 


Wild by Annete Demetriou and Dawn White and Ryan Sonderegger

Great picture book for 6 to 12 year olds. 


Taking anger and frustration from a different perspective to the other books in this collection. The two main characters Wolfie and Wilfie are calm, collected and patient. It is the pack of Wolves that are bullying them for not ‘being wolf like enough’ they are angry, bad mannered and unkind. 


The pictures at the start of the book really help the readers have empathy with what it might feel like to be threatened by a group of other people. It then goes on to explore peer pressure. Where the Wolf pack is taunting Wolfie and Wilfie to behave more like them. But, the pair hold their ground. When grandma from little Red Riding Hood appears, they jump to her defence. The other wolves, learn a lesson, that if you are kind, helpful and look out for others it can have it’s own rewards.


This book will open up conversations around peer pressure, help to give children the confidence to do the right thing and stay true to who they really are. 


Narwhal’s Otter Friend (A Narwhal and Jelly Book) by Ben Clanton 

Joyful and hilarious, this hybrid graphic novel features Narwhal and Jelly. Told in fun labeled picture, and comic like frames. 


One day Narwhal makes a new friend, Otter. Otter has lots of exciting stories to tell about adventures he’s had. Jelly gets jealous and thinks he’s been replaced. So he goes off to try and find a new friend too, only to find a stone, that lets face it however hard he tries to convince himself is just not as exciting as his best friend Narwhal. But, eventually Narwhal realises what is going on and makes sure he lets Jelly know that the adventures would not be the same without him too. 


A fantastic book for exploring feelings around friendship, helping children to understand themselves and their friends better.  All wrapped up in a curious, exciting adventure with lots of humour that children will barely realise what they are learning. 


An Empathy Lab 2020 read. 

Available to buy from me at Readers that Care 


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