{Review + Worldwide Giveaway} Today I am… (Vrolikj) by Mies van Hout

today i am collage‘Today I am” is the English version of the award-winning Dutch children’s book “Vrolijk” by Mies van Hout. The book has garnered a number of accolades including a nomination from the prestigious German Children’s Literature Award, Deutscher Jugendbuchpreis 2013. Since its Dutch release in June 2011, the book has been translated into German, French, Italian and Basque.

Illustrated with colourful pastels and set against black backgrounds, the reader is invited to guess the emotions of each fish swimming in the black depths of the enormous ocean while the word for the feeling portrayed is on a textured background hue.

A total of 20 words describing feelings, this is a book great for vocabulary-building as it instinctively prompts discussions with young children what causes one to feel a particular way thereby allowing the adult to introduce the vocabulary of emotions to the little one. Some would be familiar to them while there may be more difficult to comprehend ones such as what it means and feels like to be ‘contented’ or ‘carefree’. There are also overlaps – ‘glad’, ‘happy’ and ‘angry’, ‘furious’ – and it provides the platform to discuss with the older child that very often, for a particular emotion, there are many words which we can choose from to convey how we feel, and sometimes the choice of words allow us to convey the extent of the emotion more accurately.

The illustrations are crucial to the entire reading experience since there are only twenty words in the entire book. I’m particularly impressed by the way the strokes are made as well as the choice of colours help to convey the emotion expressed.

For instance –

(i) sad:

Mies van Hout

Not only is the fish’s eyelids droopy, the page with the word is also coloured with downward strokes, including the word itself which is smudged downwards, looking almost as if the word is crying.

(ii) brave:

Mies van Hout

The brave little fish is strategically placed in one corner of the page while it looks out into the huge mass of darkness without a single tinge of fear in its eyes.

(iii) furious:

Mies van Hout

“furious” shows an angry fish with its mouth open and eyes closed, as if it’s shouting and it is accompanied with the word on a bright red background with the letters written in a rather haphazard manner, much as we would do when we’re scribbling on paper when we’re peeved. ‘angry’ shows the fish looking grumpy and frowning and the word is placed on a page with a muted purple tone mixed with black dots all over the page. The slight difference shows the varying degrees of being angry and the child could be asked to think of scenarios which he might feel furious or angry, allowing him to construct the knowledge for himself and internalise the difference in degrees.

(iv) nervous:

Mies van Hout

The nervous fish is drawn with squiggly lines, as is the word itself together with the background.

I personally think this is an awesome book as even though it consists of only twenty words, it prompts so much discussion and the artistic expression is unequivocally brilliant.

Now for the best part! Fish Book Co. is giving away 5 copies of the book to Simply Mommie readers, worldwide. As usual, fill in the Rafflecopter widget – leaving a blog comment is the only mandatory option so please remember to do so! 🙂

Ok, after you’ve participated in the giveaway, hop over here to view the activities we did to extend learning after reading the book!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received a copy of the book for review. All opinions are mine.


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44 Responses to {Review + Worldwide Giveaway} Today I am… (Vrolikj) by Mies van Hout

  1. Summerbabies says:

    Beautiful contrast and colors of the book. Simple illustrations which my daughter will love. Thank you Fish Book Co. for the giveaway!

  2. janice says:

    love this book n the illustrations seem very appropriate! Would love to win a copy 🙂

  3. christine says:

    Lovely books to teach about emotions and the best part is that main character is FISH. My son loves fish very much. I’m sure he will love this book and will keep it under his pillow where he kept his favourite books. =) Hope to win this book for him.

  4. Eunice Wee says:

    Loving this book with its colorful illustrations and simple words.
    My kid will surely jump for joy if we won this book to read.
    Thanks for

  5. Lim Mei Mei says:

    Would love to win this book for my nephew n niece. Thanks!

  6. shih hui says:

    Iike to win the book for my 3yr old.

  7. Jenny says:

    Great sharing! Will love to win this book for my boys! Thanks

  8. Joanne says:

    Interesting & creative…my girl will love it.

  9. Jolin says:

    Thanks for hosting the giveaway.
    I love the illustrations of the book and how it makes each emotions so interesting. I’m sure my 2yo will enjoy this book.

  10. Soo Yee says:

    Great illustration! April likes to read books on fish so this will be a good addition to our library. Thanks Angie for the giveaway!

  11. Joey says:

    Thanks for the chance to win.
    Joey recently posted…MT Expo in Singapore at ION Art GalleryMy Profile

  12. Yvonne Ng says:

    Such an interesting book. I hope to stand a chance to get a copy so that my girl and my boy can benefit from it 🙂

  13. I would like to win the book for my son. The book is a great way to teach them the different emotions.

  14. joyce koo says:


    hope to win for my children :>

  15. Waiwai says:

    Interesting book! Hope to get a copy for my kids
    Waiwai recently posted…Kampung GamesMy Profile

  16. Patrina Lee says:


    hope to have a copy of the book for my little gal!


  17. Audrey says:


    Thanks for sharing this excellent giveaway! hehe… would love to win one copy for my son who loves to draw fish! It would certainly enlarge his perspective how emotions can be added to anything… even a fish.



  18. Tan Shu-Yin says:

    Would love to win this for my son who will learn how to express his feelings from this cute ‘lil fish 🙂
    Tan Shu-Yin recently posted…Conversation with Shern @ 50 mthsMy Profile

  19. Winnie says:

    Would like to teach my kids about emotions

  20. Gladys says:

    The illustrations look really lovely 🙂 will love to teach my 2 & 5 year olds about their feelings and emotions using this book!

  21. Edlyn says:

    I want to win for my boys, to teach them to understand their emotions.

  22. liann says:

    where to find this?

    *fingers crossed* hope i win the giveaway!

    • simplymommie says:

      Hi Liann,
      The book will make its debut public appearance at the Rise & Shine Expo (27-29Sept 2013) at the Suntec Convention Centre.

  23. willa says:

    Zoey loves books!

  24. Yvonne says:

    Trying my luck to win this giveaway. I love this book because it is a very colourful, interesting and creative book….Thanks!

  25. Lilium says:

    This book is good for teaching young kids different vocab about their emotion. Hope to win. Thanks for hosting!

  26. Rina Lim says:

    Hello Angie, thanks for hosting this giveaway!

    I would love to win a copy of the book for my 18-month old son who loves fish and pronounces it as “-ish” so excitedly each time he sees one!

  27. jaime Chan says:

    Most interesting…love to win a book

  28. too shuijing says:

    looking to engaging them in this simple fushy story

  29. Serene leow says:

    This is a great tool to teaches my kids to know their emotion.

  30. K Tang says:

    Thanks for sharing about the book! Would love to have a copy of it 🙂

  31. Sharon Ng says:

    Its a thrill to know you the first time through your blog.
    My 7-y-o girl, Grace loves drawing , colouring since she starts grabbing her crayon at the age of 9 Mth old till now. It’s a daily loving hobby she must draws freely from her mind. I didn’t send her for enrichment lesson , only lend some DVD from the community library to let her watching n continue exploring her drawing interest from there. Her sept birthing is around the corner , hoping to win one copy of this useful book as her best birthday gift from you. Thank you.

    • simplymommie says:

      Is Grace turning 7 or 8 in September?
      The free passes are for children 5-6 years old, so if she’s still 6+, then that’s ok.

      • Sharon ng says:

        Hi, grace will b turning 7. she has great interest to draw n paint but I hv no time to send her for such enrichment class.. hope she get a chance to win such great opportunity. Thanks ya

  32. Lynn Soh says:

    Interesting book! Would be a great addition to the home library!

  33. Jess says:

    It looks interesting and awesome!! Hope to win this!!

  34. Rosalind says:

    Thanks for sharing! Will love to win a book for our Letter F week! 😉

  35. Ranice Wu says:

    Would be great for me to have one of these to teach my boy the correct way to express his feelings instead of throwing tantrums every time.

  36. Adeline says:

    Would love to win this for Noah as I think the colourful pictures will appeal to him. 🙂
    Adeline recently posted…ThirteenMy Profile

  37. Vivien koh says:

    I really find this book very educational as it is able to distingush the many emotions that are present. . As adults i find myself teaching my kid and use the more common emotions like angry.. I seldom able to clearly explain the subtle differences for instance with the word furious and angry.. but with this book we may go more indepth and with pictures illustrating, it surely will reinforce it better.. great book not only for kids but adults as well! Hope to win it for my son and explore with him together during our story time.. 🙂

  38. grace says:

    The colourful book will definitely appeal to my girl

  39. Keith says:

    Interesting book. Hope to win for my boy!!

  40. Shirley Yong says:

    Would like to join in too ! Thanks for upping closer to deadline !

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