The Color Monster: A Pop-Up Book of Feelings
Anna Llenas’ The Color Monster: A Pop-up Book of Feelings is an adorable book for ages 3–7. This cute primer teaches children about feelings, associating them with colors they will have learned or be learning through books or school, to help them understand what it is they feel and possibly why. In the bright illustrations, a young girl talks to her color monster who is feeling mixed up, and is no one single color today but a whole host of them. She helps it sort out each of the colors and feelings.
The illustrations are bright and gorgeous and use photographed mixed media art. The pop-ups are cleverly done and will entertain any young child or any adult young at heart. This is a good book to start introducing to children who are still at the stage of being encouraged to “use their words” instead of having a meltdown or otherwise physically lashing out.
While understandable that the main character probably needed to be assigned a gender, it would have been nice if there were a girl and a boy to walk the color monster through its feelings. Boys often grow up faced with a culturally defined masculine ethic that often prevents them from admitting feelings or “feeling” in general, and to have two genders showing a monster that it is okay to feel and get things sorted out would’ve been a nice advantage for children of both genders.
There is a serious drawback to this adorable title and it is that the monster is essentially being told it can only feel one thing at a time, that it is not okay to be mixed up. Toward the end of the tale, the monster has each of its feelings, with associated colors, properly sorted, but they are put into the bottles so many psychologists spend ages trying to get adults to open and explore. To perpetuate the myth that feelings must be properly sorted and bottled (i.e. stored) is harmful; however, as a colorful example of explaining to a child what each feeling is, in the limited way done here, how to associate it with colors, and possibly how to think about how he or she feels in a given moment to help through confusion is positive and makes this title worthwhile—despite some reservations.