Polly Dunbar: Red Red Red

Illustrated by the author

Published by Walker Books 2019

If you have ever witnessed, endured and tried to placate a young person having a meltdown, or tantrum, then you know that it can be a frightening, despairing and vulnerable experience. That feeling of seeing red, being surrounded by circles of red, and being in the middle of a vortex of red hot anger can be overwhelming. The front cover of Dunbar’s picture book beautifully and honestly illustrates that feeling. There are red crayon swirls completely encircling an unhappy shouting and yelling child who maybe 2 or 3 years old. How did the child get to this point?

Well, it started with one thing going wrong, the biscuit jar was out of reach. There was a fall, and a bump on the head, twisted pants and socks that don’t stay up…little things that add up and add up, until suddenly it seems like nothing is going right. We have all had days like that.

Fortunately, there is a mum in this story who steps in and confronts those red hot feelings with soothing words of wisdom. Just count, mum says. And breath, deeply, until those confusing and hot feelings subside. It’s mindfulness for the young and even for those not so young. We should all do a little more deep breathing and sighing in our day. Focus on the air going in and out, nurturing and sustaining our lives every moment of every day.

I can highly recommend this book for children 2-8 years, and here are some of my recommendations for other picture books that explore emotions:

The Colour of Happy
by Laura Baker
Breathing Makes it Better
by Christopher Willard and
Wendy O’Leary
In My Heart: A Book of Feelings
by Jo Witek
When Sadness Comes to Call
by Eva Eland
How Do You Feel?
by Anthony Browne
The Rabbit Listened by
Cori Doerrfeld

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Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer

I Am Angry by Michael Rosen Illustrated by Robert Starling

Grumpy Days by Sue deGennaro

Why Do We Cry? by Fran Pintadera Illustrated by Ana Sender