Handling one’s feelings can be difficult for grownups. Imagine how much harder it is for kids! With FEELU: Explore Your Feelings, Niloufar Shafiei helps children learn to recognize and navigate their emotions by combining whimsical rhymes about animals with examples from everyday life children can relate to. Throughout the book, Feelu the Elephant experiences feelings ranging from silliness to sadness. Besides explaining various emotions, FEELU deals with other topics, including the importance of kindness and acceptance in everyday life. It also instructs children on how to practice mindfulness and do simple breathing exercises. Finally, it attempts to teach them how to handle conflicts and bullying.
As important as the text – if not even more so – is the interior art by Vahid Fazel. At first glance, these bright and colorful illustrations appear deceptively simple. However, they accomplish a difficult and delicate task of visually communicating a broad range of feelings to young readers. What makes this even more challenging is that the differences between certain emotions can get quite nuanced, at least for children. But Fazel is up to the task, and together with Shafiei’s text, the art helpfully depicts differences between — for example — happiness, silliness, and excitement. Another interesting aspect of FEELU is that this picture book is accompanied by a computer application. In 2019, Shafiei’s software development company, Black Whale Technology, released an educational FEELU app for iOS that offers the same lessons and exercises as the book, except in an interactive format.
All in all, Niloufar Shafiei’s FEELU: Explore Your Feelings provides parents with a valuable tool for explaining almost a dozen emotions to their children and does so in a way that kids can grasp instantly and intuitively. While later chapters seem a bit undeveloped when compared to the first one–which is unfortunate since recognizing one’s emotions is merely the first step in a far longer journey towards emotional maturity–it’s a minor quibble in an otherwise recommended book.
In the sensitively written and beautifully illustrated book FEELU: Explore Your Feelings, writer Niloufar Shafiei and artist Vahid Fazel help introduce children to the frequently wondrous, occasionally baffling, and sometimes scary world of human emotions.
~Danijel Štriga for IndieReader