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