Book Review: Feel a Little: Little Poems About Big Feelings, by Jenny Palmer, illustrated by Evie Kemp

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_feel_a_little_NZSharing our feelings is not only important for adults. The benefits of emotional literacy can be seen in children of all ages. This book is a collaboration by two people who addressed the need for this. It began as an online project where an emotion was featured each week. The poem for each emotion combines catchy rhymes with beautifully vibrant illustrations. There are 14 emotions in the book, a rainbow of expressions and images, that use colour to reinforce ideas. Following the success of the venture, the poems were gathered into this hard cover book which is best suited for 7-11 year olds.

While the poems are quite long and complex, they would make a useful starter as an educational focus. I could see myself in teaching, using a poem each week and basing activities on these. Movement, music and art would flow naturally from discussions about, “When I feel Sad”. In the home, the book might be read over a number of weeks allowing for family discussions about times when we have felt that emotion. I would struggle to read the whole book in a sitting, but do not feel this was the intended purpose of the authors.

Feel a Little is an exciting collaboration because it addresses the emotional needs of children in words and images. By choosing to publish these poems they will access a wider audience and be useful in many situations. My copy has already gone to my Grandaughter’s preschool who intend to use it in their programmes. That must be a sure sign of a successful book.

Reviewed by Kathy Watson

Feel a Little: Little Poems About Big Feelings
by Jenny Palmer, illustrated by Evie Kemp
Published by Little Love
ISBN 9780473384456

Book Review: A Little ABC Book, by Jenny Palmer

Available in bookstores nationwide.

Jcv_a_little_ABC_bookenny Palmer is an Auckland poet and illustrator. She has written A Little ABC Book using
crowd-sourcing in an interesting way – the animal for each letter of the alphabet was voted on by children, and the winner has made their way into the book. I think it’s this concept that lifts the books above others in the genre – the animals aren’t your all your usual dogs, rabbits, tigers and whales.

Including kakapo and wombats, the book covers an international pantheon of animals, including some that are more magical than others (unicorns, yeti!). Other interesting variations include tadpoles, flying squirrels and crustaceans. I’m surprised that Palmer chose to illustrate craneflies rather than spiders for Daddy Long Legs – both animals can be called Daddy Long Legs, but spiders are more commonly associated with the term.

The poems are clever, and each follows the same format of ABCB quatrains, which will make them easy to read aloud as the rhythm is generally consistent. Palmer is able to squeeze in both a sense of humour (the poems are often quite punny – a unicorn has a unique horn) as well as some interesting facts about the animals. She also makes full use of poetic devices like alliteration, which children love. For example:

“Side-stepping scatter crabs,
shrimp swiftly flee,
spikes scuttle smugly past
stuck anemone!”

As someone who teaches new entrants, the only quibble I have with the book – and this is true of so many ABC books and friezes – is that it only focuses on capital letters. It’s really important for children to be able to recognise both forms of each letter of the alphabet, and I wish more authors, illustrators and book designers would accommodate this in their work.

Don’t let that stop you from purchasing the book though. With charming line drawings and fun rhymes, I think many children from 2 – 5 would enjoy receiving A Little ABC Book for Christmas.

A Little ABC Book
by Jenny Palmer
Published by Beatnik Publishing
ISBN 9780992264802