REVIEW: Ridge Writers on Books ‘First Feelings: 12 Stories for Toddlers’

By Dr. Mary Manz Simon, illus. Dorothy Stott and Penny Weber, ages 2-5, 256 pgs, B&H Kids, padded cover, 2017, revised edition, $12.99, also in ebook

REVIEW: Ridge Writers on Books ‘First Feelings: 12 Stories for Toddlers’By DONNA MCCROHAN ROSENTHAL

This small volume, combining very few words per page with a sweet picture on each facing page, packs a wealth of towering messages. Emotions can confound and overwhelm little folks who have no idea how to handle them. They may want to throw tantrums or wail incessantly. Often we do too, as adults. But imagine the daunting challenge of taming anger, fear, jealousy, frustration, and bouncing-off-the-walls excitement at age three or five or so, and even understanding why self-control matters.

In “First Feelings,” award-winning author Simon with more than three million books sold, walks youngsters through many basic feelings, using brief stories and Scripture verse to provide them with important coping skills. Questions such as, “What do you do well?,” “What would you like to learn to do?,” “What would you say to make a friend smile?,” and “When did you give a person something you made?” spark involvement and teach worthwhile lessons.

Simon begins with a cuddly bear cub asking, “When do you feel happy?” Next follows a tiny tale about giggling and playing when Grandma visits, and napping with a kitty that purrs and tickles. She concludes the happiness section with a serious one-page discussion for parents on “Ways to help your child be happy” and a prayer for a toddler to recite: “No matter what I’m feeling / at night or through the day / help me, dear God, remember / You’ll listen when I pray.”

This pattern continues throughout with assurance ranging from “God cares for you, so turn your worries over to Him” (I Peter 5:7) to advice to switching the mood to silliness to cut tension. Ducks, pigs, elephants, pandas, foxes, sheep, kittens, bunnies, and doggies step onto the scene to embody the different situations. For example, in the “Afraid” part, a mouse calms scary thoughts by realizing, “It helps to know bad dreams aren’t real; / they’re pictures in my head. / So I will think of happy things / before I crawl in bed.”

Simon writes, “This book comes from my head as an early-childhood educator and from my heart as a mother of three and a grandmother of five. I pray God will bless your child through ‘First Feelings.’”

This monthly column is written by members of Ridge Writers, the East Sierra Branch of the California Writers Club. Meetings are held the first Thursday of each month at Ridgecrest Presbyterian Church and free programs are offered throughout the year.

Ridge Writers’ book “Planet Mojave: Visions from a World Apart” is available at the Historic USO Building, Jawbone Canyon, Maturango Museum, and Red Rock Books.

Story First Published: 2017-06-16