October 10, 2018

Ira Crumb Feels the Feelings

Written by Naseem Hrab
Illustrated by Josh Holinaty
Owlkids Books
32 pp.
Ages 5-8
October 2018

In Ira Crumb's first book, Ira Crumb Makes a Pretty Good Friend (Owlkids, 2017), author Naseem Hrab and illustrator Josh Holinaty introduced new kid Ira as he endeavoured to make a friend and start feeling like he belonged at his new school and neighbourhood. Malcolm became that friend to Ira. But now that friendship becomes the source of feelings that confuse Ira and overwhelm him. Feelings can be that way.

Though Ira and Malcolm love telling jokes, sharing pickles and playing together, when Ira wants to play hide and seek and Malcolm prefers to play tag, the two friends seem at an impasse. What's worse is that loads of other kids and even a pickle, a dog and a snail want to play tag and they carry Malcolm off for a game. Being the good friend he is, Malcolm still asks Ira to come but accepts his decline.
From Ira Crumb Feels the Feelings by Naseem Hrab, illus. by Josh Holinaty
Poor Ira.  Now his tummy hurts, his chin is wibbling and his eyes are leaking. There are those who admonish him for his feelings:
Chin up, kid. No one likes a wibbler.
and others who seek to distract him:
Forget your problems and just feel the music.
Even inanimate objects like houses, a hydrant and a car seem to be trying to cheer him up. But Ira's feelings are fully in control, evolving from sadness to explosive anger.  It's only when Malcolm reconnects with Ira, telling Ira he'd missed him and offers to be sad with him that the friendship is rekindled into a laughing extravaganza of fart jokes.
From Ira Crumb Feels the Feelings by Naseem Hrab, illus. by Josh Holinaty
While that which distresses Ira may seem insignificant to older readers, Naseem Hrab understands that being excluded or not having your game chosen is a very big deal for Ira and very young children. (Reminds me of a great folk song called Blues is Like Shoes.) Ira tries to understand his feelings but feelings are often incomprehensible except in hindsight. When feelings have you in their hold, it's tough to have perspective. And the vocabulary Naseem Hrab uses, like leaking eyes and wibbling chins, is so appropriate for the very young. The message is that feelings, though not always welcome, are normal. In fact, an engaging poster that came with the book shows Ira in all his feelings, good and bad and in-between.
Portion of poster accompanying Ira Crumb Feels the Feelings by Naseem Hrab, illus. by Josh Holinaty
Josh Holinaty's illustrations are more than appropriate for the very young who would benefit from reading a story about feelings. His artwork is emotive and still fun. Josh Holinaty, who illustrated Troy Wilson's Liam Takes a Stand (Owlkids, 2017), makes Ira effusive in his emotions from joy at play to overwhelmed with sadness and blistering with rage. Ira and his feelings are the stars of the book and Josh Holinaty ensures that, through colour, line and shape, nothing gets in the way of that focus.

I know that Ira Crumb Feels the Feelings is a fun but realistic take on friendship but I think teachers of preschoolers and kindergartners will appreciate its lessons on emotions, for children to recognize feelings in themselves and in others, to help everyone get along a little bit better.

Look for the news tomorrow about the Toronto book launch for Ira Crumb Feels the Feelings for a chance to purchase your own copy, have some fun and nibble on a few cookies. (I heard there would be cookies though, if there aren't, disappointment is a feeling we can all accept as normal.)

No comments:

Post a Comment