Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Max’s Box helps kids manage emotions

Max’s Box, by Brian Wray/Illustrated by Shiloh Penfield, (Sept. 2019, Schiffer Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9780764358043

Ages 4-8

A young boy named Max receives a box from his parents; they tell him he can put everything in the box, so he starts putting his favorite toys in the box but quickly discovers that he can put feelings and emotions in the box, too. Unfortunately, as Max adds feelings to the box – hurt, embarrassment, frustration – the box becomes bigger and heavier to bear, and Max’s quality of life is affected: he can’t do things he used to enjoy, like riding a bike or climbing trees, because of the unwieldy, enormous box. Luckily, a prospective friend and a ladybug lead Max to a joyful, creative solution.

Max’s Box is a clean, easy-to-understand story about emotions, and how suppressing them can cast a shadow over everything we do. As the box first becomes loaded with Max’s physical clutter, his parents buy him a wagon to tote it around, asking him if the Box is getting too big for him. Max’s response, “I can carry it”, will resonate with adults and kids who feel like negative emotions can be a burden on others.  All it takes as a boy willing to keep Max company and a surprise visit from a ladybug to lift Max’s spirits and give him an idea: to create the image of a balloon, floating away; other see this and contribute their own balloons, communicating the value of creative visualization. The grey and white artwork gradually fills in with bright colors as Max and others lighten their loads, sending physical and emotional baggage free. As Max’s dad says, “It’s ok to have all kinds of feelings… but once you feel them, their job is done”. An author note about expressing emotion offers tips for adults who want to help children healthily manage and express their emotions.

A good read-aloud for younger grades that invites discussion. I’d love to see some parent-educator resources for this.

Posted in Non-fiction, professional development

Become an emotional explorer with three new books!

Schiffer has three new books by psychologists Maria Mercè Conangla and Jaume Soler, geared toward helping kids between ages 7-12 becomes “emotional explorers” and “emotional ecologists”: better able to become more in tune with their own emotions, and the emotions of everyone around them.

Emotional Explorers, by Maria Mercè Conangla and Jaume Soler, (Oct. 2018, Schiffer Publishing), $16.99, ISBN: 9780764355530

Ages 7-12

Emotional Explorers encourages kids to see environmental and emotional education as parallel ideas, each supporting the other, in support of the fact that we are tied to our planet; our environment, and that we affect our surroundings as they affect us. The table of contents offers five separate sections, each with discussion points to ponder before diving in. The idea of being part of two worlds: the inner planet – ourselves – and the outer planet – the world around us – is a big idea to wrap one’s head around, but at the same time, it makes perfect, simple sense. Thought-provoking questions have readers consider how we treat the world around us, and then, how we treat ourselves. From there, we move to emotional landscapes, adaptation, facing adversity, and creating protected spaces.

Relationship Navigators, by Maria Mercè Conangla and Jaume Soler, (Oct. 2018, Schiffer Publishing), $16.99, ISBN: 9780764355554

Ages 7-12

Relationship Navigators encourages kids to explore relationships and how to surround themselves with positive energy. Chapters include “Learning to Fly”, the opening chapter that explores what gives us wings versus what drags us down and keeps us from soaring; “Energies”, which explains how to differentiate positive energy from contaminated energy; and “Sowing Happiness”, where kids learn to plant the seeds for a happy life – and reminds readers that gardens require constant care.


Feelings Forecasters, by Maria Mercè Conangla and Jaume Soler, (Oct. 2018, Schiffer Publishing), $16.99, ISBN: 9780764356247

Ages 7-12

Feelings Forecasters explores “emotional meteorology”: our emotions and how they affect the world around us; emotional tsunamis that can rage out of control and overwhelm us; what to happen when our emotional management fails us and how carrying an “umbrella of self-esteem” can protect us from others’ emotional acid rain; and how to reduce, recycle, and transform emotional garbage. Thing about how emotions are often communicated: “stormy” relationships; “sunny” outlooks and “waves” of feeling, and you have a great way to open up a discussion on emotional meteorology.

Each book follows a specific structure, laid out at the beginning of the book. Activities, discussion prompts, and reflections throughout allow for discussion and introspection. The bright, bold, childlike artwork is eye-catching. Chunks of text on some of the pages may be a little intimidating to younger readers, and there is a lot to unpack in these books. This would be best served for educators and caregivers to use, particularly for younger readers, when working with emotions and how to manage them.