Reviewed by Mary Roche
Sometimes I Feel…: A Menagerie of Feelings Big and Small is one of those books that makes me wish that it came in one-side-only loose pages. The reason for that is because most of the ink and watercolour illustrations are ones I’d like to frame. The endpapers – in particular the horses and the battling stags – made me think of prehistoric cave paintings: they have the same fluid beauty. But here the animals are all displaying intense emotions.
Sarah Maycock tells us in her notes at the end that this book began as her final year project in college. She studied animals in zoos and watched documentaries, and as she pained the animals, she recognised that their emotions contain depth and complexity. Without resorting to anthropomorphism, she has captured this beautifully using sweeping brushstrokes and excellent use of line and white space. The animals portrayed are often in motion and her images of them are masterfully executed.
There are many picturebooks available for encouraging children to talk about their feelings. It is the artwork that sets Sometimes I Feel apart. While the book will provide children with a safe way for thinking about and discussing their feelings, in the hands of wise teachers and parents it will also offer opportunities for engendering empathy as well as self-awareness. It would couple well with An Emotional Menagerie for comparing the portrayal of feelings and contrasting the illustrative style. There are also endless possibilities for linkage and integration with other curricular areas, especially Art and Creative Writing.