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Big Feelings

The Hot Off the Press Spotlight segment showcases new books from our current Hot Off the Press list to further assist parents, teachers, librarians, booksellers, and other book enthusiasts in finding engaging books for all types of readers.

When you’re young, your emotions can feel overwhelming, too big to control, or even completely incomprehensible. Trying something new, learning how to share, navigating loss, or even just trying to figure out how to name your feelings is a big deal for kids. This selection of titles from our March Hot Off the Press list explores the emotional roller coasters that kids can experience, showing that you’re not alone and that with a little creativity, bravery, and kindness, you can get through all of those big feelings.

Anxious, by Luciana De Luca; illus. by Natalí Barbani (Annick Press) — Fiction, Picture Book, Concepts, Mental / Physical Health, Disabilities, ages 4-6.

A gorgeously illustrated, sparingly written story about the often complicated feelings brought on by anxiousness, perfect for helping young readers identify this complex emotion.

The little girl in this picture book would love to dance, sing, and play with her friends, but she is struggling with anxious feelings that get in the way. Sometimes she feels scared and sometimes she feels shy. Sometimes the world seems too loud, too fast, and everything is so overwhelming she could just scream. There is no easy fix for feeling anxious, but by the end of this story she learns to ask for help and finds small ways to feel better.

Written from a child’s perspective, Anxious pairs evocative art with simple text to illustrate some of the ways anxiousness can be experienced, providing an empathetic and compassionate framework for helping readers understand this feeling.

A note to readers adds context and explains in more detail what anxiousness can look like, provides suggestions for coping skills, and resources for professional help.

Beth and Cloud Won’t Change, written & illustrated by Ciara Gavin (Clavis) — Fiction, Picture Book, Friendships, Mental / Physical Health, Science / Nature, ages 4-6.

A story in which a girl learns that change can bring many new possibilities. For brave children ages 5 years and up.

Just before starting school for the first time, Beth meets a cloud who has drifted into her room. Fascinated by Beth’s inside world, Cloud decides to become an inside cloud. Now they can be friends forever. But can you keep a cloud inside forever?

Born Brave, by Megan Bomgaars; illus. by Quiel Ramos (Flowerpot Press) — Fiction, Picture Book, Mental / Physical Health, Animals, Concepts, ages 4-6.

A new colorful and sparkling story from author Megan Bomgaars reminds readers that they were born brave just like Megan!

This uplifting and whimsical follow up title to Born to Sparkle reminds us of all the ways we have shown courage and bravery every single day since the day we were born. From the first night sleeping on your own to the very first day of school, we have all faced challenges, but Megan reminds us that we have always had it inside of us.

Henry and the Something New, by Jenn Bailey; illus. by Mika Song (Chronicle Books) — Fiction, Early Reader, Disabilities, Friendships, Kindness / Generosity, ages 7-12.

From the creators of A Friend for Henry and Henry, Like Always comes a delightful beginning chapter book about embracing new experiences, starring a sweet and sensitive child on the autism spectrum.

It’s Field Trip Day! Henry’s class is excited to visit the museum, but Henry is not so sure. The museum means maybe seeing dinosaurs, Henry’s favorite. But it also means a lot of things that are new: a noisy school bus ride, a building full of echoes and hallways, and plenty of chances to get lost! Will he find something that makes all of this new worth the trip? Come along with Henry in this funny, bighearted tale about trying new things, exploring new places, and finding the courage to make yourself heard.

Imperfectly Perfect, by Perry Emerson; illus. by Hoang Giang (Tiger Tales Books) — Fiction, Picture Book, Family / Community, Concepts, Friendships, ages 4-6.

A thought-provoking picture book inspired by the idea that there is beauty to be cherished in imperfection.

When Maria rips her brother Robbie’s favorite book, she’s worried that they might never be friends again. But with encouragement and wise words from family friend Ms. Bea, Maria learns to embrace the beauty of broken things and seize the opportunity they offer for healing and reconciliation. A heartfelt celebration of the perfect imperfections that surround us in our everyday lives.

The Imposter, by Laura Bower; illus. by Kerisa Greene (Gnome Road Publishing) — Fiction, Picture Book, Friendships, Humor, Kindness / Generosity, ages 4-6.

Olive loves her Mr. Snuggles more than anything else in the world. He’s cuddly – reliable – perfect – and unfortunately … lost. When Mr. Snuggles mysteriously reappears, Olive couldn’t be more excited. Except, he looks a little too clean, a little too fluffy, and a little too new. He’s an imposter! Olive must learn to make room for more than just one Mr. Snuggles in her heart or else banish The Imposter from her life for good.

Kiki Feels Funny, written & illustrated by Esther van den Berg (Clavis) — Fiction, Picture Book, Mental / Physical Health, Holidays / Seasons / Celebrations, Animals, ages 4-6.

A playful and recognizable story about different feelings. For toddlers ages 30 months and up, with a focus on the child’s emotions.

Kiki wakes up feeling funny. It’s not an itch on her nose or her toe, but a tingling in her tummy… What could she be feeling? Curious, Kiki asks her animal friends what they’re feeling.

La Mala Suerte Is Following Me, by Ana Siqueira; illus. by Carlos Vélez Aguilera (Charlesbridge Publishing) — Fiction, Picture Book, Imagination / Play, Contemporary, Cultural Diversity, ages 4-6.

In this fun picture book romp about superstitions, can Miguel learn to make his own luck—and be rid of La Mala Suerte—before it’s too late?

Miguel’s abuelita warned him that opening an umbrella in the house will bring La Mala Suerte (Mrs. Bad Luck) who will follow him wherever he goes, and now Miguel’s life is ruined! He trips, fails an exam, and he can’t block a shot to save his life at soccer practice. Nothing he tries works to get rid of Mrs. Bad Luck—looking for a four-leaf clover, his aunt’s “existential” oils… Now what? 

Simultaneously published in Spanish and in English with Spanish insertions, this silly and heartfelt look at superstitions will leave kids excited to get out there and make their own luck.

Lena’s Favorite Sweater, by Ellen Delange; illus. by Johanna Häger (Clavis) — Fiction, Picture Book, Mental / Physical Health, Family / Community, Kindness / Generosity, ages 7-12.

A beautiful story about the joy of sharing. For children ages 5 years and up.

Lena has a favorite sweater. Grandma knitted it especially for her. No one else is allowed to touch it, except when Mom washes it. But one day, when the sweater is hanging on the clothesline outside, Lena sees that it has big holes in it. Who has done this? she thinks angrily. When she finds out, she makes a surprising discovery . . .

Maya Plays the Part, by Calyssa Erb (Annick Press) — Fiction, Prose, Disabilities, Coming of Age, Friendships, ages 7-12.

A heartwarming middle-grade debut with autism representation and a musical flair.

Maya lives and breathes musicals. When her chance to finally be a part of the summer musical program at the community theater comes up, Maya is convinced she will get the lead. After all, who knows The Drowsy Chaperone better than she does? However, things don’t turn out exactly the way Maya’s planned, and the summer turns out to be jam-packed with problems: dealing with her best friend’s move, her parents’ busy jobs, and—since her autism diagnosis—the ongoing puzzle of how to be Maya in Public. But perhaps most important of all, Maya has to figure out how to play the part that truly feels like her own.

My Baby Sister is A Diplodocus, written & illustrated by Aurore Petit (Gecko Press) — Fiction, Picture Book, Family / Community, Imagination / Play, Concepts, ages 4-6.

In this eye-catching neon-bright picture book, a brother finds an inventive way to connect with his new baby sister through his love of dinosaurs.

My new baby sister comes home. But babies don’t drink milk, don’t ride a bicycle, don’t play my games. Do I like being a big brother? No! Roooarr! I stomp around and go to sleep in my T-Rex onesie.

In the morning, I take another look at baby sister—baby sister diplodocus.

My Baby Sister Is a Diplodocus is a new sibling story within the imaginative world of a toddler. We share a brother’s excitement then disappointment in his new baby sister. But his love of dinosaurs opens up a new path. By imagining her as a dinosaur, he connects with her, making room for everyone in the family.

Vivid contemporary illustrations and surprising perspectives complement a spare narrative. Affecting vignettes of this new family, with its little baby tucked up in the centre of the story, combine with graphic/comics elements in the storytelling as we share the emotion of each moment unfolding.

My Daddy is in Heaven Grief Workbook, by Alexander R. Della Cerra and Dr. Shawna L. Della Cerra; illus. by Ryan Law (Lawley Publishing) — Fiction, Picture Book, Death / Grief, Family / Community, How-to / Activity, ages 4-6.

My Daddy Is In Heaven Grief Workbook: A Companion Grief Guide to My Daddy Is In Heaven is packed with activities and resources to assist individuals in processing feelings while actively engaging in healthy healing. This easy to follow guide makes heavy-hearted conversations approachable by breaking down barriers into manageable chunks. The Della Cerra’s provide a variety of opportunities to strengthen coping, communication, and bonding skills. Immediately implement positive discourse through guided prompts.

The Storyteller, by Lindsay Bonilla; illus. by Noar Lee Naggan (Nancy Paulsen Books / Penguin Young Readers) — Fiction, Picture Book, Death / Grief, Family / Community, Folklore / Fairytales / Myths, ages 4-6.

Featuring an evocative text and luminous paintings, this stunning book celebrates the power of stories—how they connect us, inspire us, and keep memories alive.

Griffin’s grandmother spins the most marvelous stories, from breathtaking fairy tales to fascinating family lore. These stories fuel his imagination and fill their days with magic. So when he sees her once-bright spark begin to fade, Griffin is scared to think of the future. Fortunately, though, he has her stories to guide him—and to remind him that he is braver than he could ever imagine.

Wild, written & illustrated by Emily Hughes (Flying Eye Books) — Fiction, Picture Book, Imagination / Play, Science / Nature, Family / Community, ages 4-6.

In Emily Hughes’ beautiful picture book we meet a little girl who has known nothing but nature from birth – she was taught to talk by birds, to eat by bears and to play by foxes – she is unashamedly, irrefutably, irrepressibly wild.

That is, until she is snared by some very strange animals that look oddly like her, but they don’t talk right, eat right, or play correctly. She’s puzzled by their behavior and their insistence to live in these strange concrete structures known as ‘apartments’. There’s no green here, no animals, no trees, no rivers. Now she lives in the comfort of civilization. But will civilization get comfortable with her?

Wild is a 21st century response to Maurice Sendak’s children’s classic, Where the Wild Things Are. Awash with color and full of atmosphere, it offers visual treats to enchant children and indulge their wilder tendencies.

For more great book suggestions, be sure to check out the full March Hot Off the Press list!

List compiled by CBC’s resident book connoisseur, Brooke Pisarsky. Check out other Hot Off the Press Spotlight book lists on our blog.

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