1

Reading “Feelings”

Feelings

This week marks Mental Health Awareness Week, a week designed to raise awareness and start conversations. My picture-book, Feelings, aims to start those conversations about the emotions we experience much earlier – getting children to recognise and understand what feelings are.

Picture books are magical things. They introduce children to wonderful creatures, imaginary places and the art of storytelling but that’s not all. They also teach children to read pictures and to understand imagery before they can even read words. Feelings, uses picture book principles to help children read and understand how emotions feel without prescription and, most importantly, without judgement.

Feelings is a peek-through picture book that looks to take the reader on a journey through a range of emotions they might experience, with the philosophy of:

Looking from the outside, I may seem the same as you, but deep beneath the surface feelings bubble, stir and brew…”.

The same character appears on every spread, by way of a central cutaway, to explore the emotional spectrum. My Publisher, Thomas Truong, came up with this format to give readers a ‘guide’ and illustrator Richard Jones deliberately made the character androgynous so not to exclude any readers from the journey.

Illustrator Richard Jones explains what it was like to tackle the huge subject of feelings through art:

The moment I read the text for Feelings I knew it could be not only a thoughtful, magical book but a useful one too.

Having worked in a busy children’s library for nearly 15 years I was aware there are very few accessible books for children that tackle the complicated, knotty subject of feelings.

Although there are many tangled distinctions between feeling and emotion it was my role as the illustrator to focus on the feeling – the unique reaction to an emotional response that makes us the person we are. 

Each page needed to be imaginative, inventive and interesting to young eyes but not so specific or abstruse that the reader cannot relate to the feeling portrayed.

FeelingsFeelings is a book designed to start conversations about how we feel, to help make children feel comfortable and confident in talking about or drawing their emotions. It can be used both in the classroom for art projects and poetry lessons or as a one-on-one storybook, allowing parents to guide their child. We’ve had some lovely responses from teachers and bloggers posting the pictures children have done to show how they feel and we’d love to see more! Use the tag #FeelingsBook to share and discuss – join the conversation.

 

Feelings can be purchased online (Amazon, Waterstones, etc.) or in your local bookshop.

0

Four Years of Going Through the Wardrobe!

IMG_1988.JPG

Today my little blog turns four –

1,096 days Through the Wardrobe door!

I’ve read, reviewed and spread bookish good cheer,

So it’s time to celebrate another literary year!

Blogging is a tricky little beast but one I wouldn’t be without. Yes, book blogs may be ten a penny but, to me, they are so incredibly important. I discover books, people and ideas through the blogging world that I wouldn’t have come across on my own. I see more of the literary market, themes and blockbusters through blogs and social media than what my tastes or day-to-day working life would allow.

Through the Wardrobe is four years old today – four YEARS old!! Though it may be just a quiet toddler within the blogging community, I never believed my little space in the virtual universe would 1) ever be sustained for so long and 2) still be something I am so passionate about. I absolutely love being able to share bookish recommendations, thoughts and musings with you and I shall endeavour to continue and grow Through the Wardrobe over the next twelve months. Thank you so SO much for visiting, following and supporting this blog and me this past year. TTWers – you will never know how much that means!

Now time for some cake!

0

Joyful January?!

It’s nearly the end of January – yay!! (also, already, how did that happen?!) The opening month of the year has always had a bad reputation for being the bleakest 31 days of the year and whilst this isn’t a wholly unfounded reputation, I’ve been attempting to look at the positives to beat those dreaded January Blues.

Potential financial turmoil (six weeks between paydays –who thought that one up?!) and the hideousness of that inauguration aside, January isn’t really too terrible a month and I’ve come up with ten reasons why it needs to be reviewed and re-categorised as a not-so-bad after all…

joyful-jan

Reset button
A new year gives us the opportunity to reset everything – to take stock of the last year and put things behind us, taking only the good things into the new. It’s refreshingly daunting.

Lighter days
We have passed the shortest day of the year (21st December) and now each day is getting longer and lighter – woohoo!

Chilly sunshine
I love days that are chilly but with brilliant with sunshine and this Jan has had plenty! Big scarfs and chunky knitwear – yes please!

Better health
I know the old adage of “new year, new me” and the pitfalls of going all out in the first week of Jan only to completely stop by the second. But hopefully one or two small changes will stick to make this year healthier than the last!

Good ol’ fashioned clear out
It’s cathartic to have a clear out every once in a while and January is the perfect month for digging out boxes and tidying away. You can’t afford to go out so make your nest the best one it can be!

Bargains to be had
Yes, you can’t afford everything you want from the sales and we’ve all fallen into the “up to XX% off” trap (3% off is NOT a sale!) but there are bargains to be had out there if we just have the patience to look (and do the maths!)

Hibernating
January is the month to batten down the hatches, light those candles and settle down to read your Christmas books. Hibernation goals happen in Jan!

Rediscovering Christmas pressies
For the past two years I have journeyed home for Christmas on the train, leaving my opened Christmas presents for my very kind parents to drive back. When they drop off my parcel of goodies early Jan, it’s like opening my presents all over again!

Sherlock
This January delivered the last (potentially) series of Sherlock and had me fixed to my screen of a Sunday eve. I am a big fan of the Gatiss/Moffat, Cumberbatch/Freeman show and this season, for me, it was back on form!

A clean diary
I love a paper diary and every year, as is tradition, Father Christmas hides in my stocking a new clean diary for the year ahead. Not only do I get to go through the old one, reminiscing about the year before, but I get to transfer birthdays, anniversaries, up-coming events in a nice shiny new calendar that’s fresh with no mistakes in.

We’re nearly there though, through the not-so-bad month and waiting with baited breath to see what the rest of 2017 has in store! Hope you’ve had a good start to the year TTWers!

1

An Ode to Resolutions

The tree is undressed and the bottles all drained,

The wreath is unhung and some pounds have been gained!

Christmas is over and the New Year seen in,

Resolutions are made – let the ‘new me’ begin!

 

I’ll look after the pennies, I’ll budget and plan –

It’s the year of good finance, a frivolity ban!

But the sales are a calling – they only come once a year,

And Jan is too bleak, it needs spending cheer!

 

So I’ll go to the gym and workout every day,

To be lean, thin and lithe and half what I weigh!

Early mornings are hell! More sleep must be better

Than plodding and panting in an old uni sweater.

 

The diet’s the thing! A complete overhaul!

More fresh fruit and veg ­and no pizza at all!

But no wonder I’m hungry, I live like a rabbit…

Will I ever catch on to this ‘clean-eating’ habit?

 

Right, I’ll stop all the booze – no pub trips in sight,

I’ll resist the temptation with all of my might!

A leaving do? A birthday? A Friday night drink?

It would be rude not to go… just a quick one I think!

 

Saying “yes” to new things will enrich my life –

I could knit, be an artist, a chef or a wife (?!)

But the one thing I want more than hobbies and fun

Is a night on the sofa and a meal just for one!

 

So for this shiny New Year, I think the best aim,

Is to be happy, healthy and mostly… the same!

No impossible changes or drastic amends –

Just good times and laughter with family and friends.

 

© Libby Walden, 2017

1

Here’s to 2017!

The tree is undressed and the bottles all drained,

The wreath is away and some pounds have been gained!

Christmas is over and the New Year seen in,

Resolutions are made – let the “new me” begin!

© Libby Walden, 2017

leo-toast-9.w529.h352.2x

Happy New Year TTWers! I hope you all had fabulous festivities and find yourselves experiencing utter mortification that it’s all over for another year and we’re already a week into Jan? Good, not just me then!

The beginning of January always starts with a reflection on the year just passed – what we enjoyed, who we saw, what we read, etc. – and a look at what we want for the coming twelve months. I not the biggest fan of the unrealistic overhauls some people adopt but I do see the clean slate of the new year as a good opportunity to put the promise of better habits into practice. Frivolous spending will (for the most part!) be curbed, alcohol consumption will be reduced and the amount of exercise taken will increase. I have two huge weddings coming up this year – my sister’s and my best friend’s – so I have the motivation to look my most fabulous! It’s just down to me now…

Looking back, 2016 was a mixed little bag of a year. It saw my first picture book (Feelings, illustrated by the incredibly talented Richard Jones) and my first non-fiction book (In Focus) publish – both of which give me endless joy and pride every time I see them on my shelves and out “in the wild”!

(I’ve got some other books coming out in 2017 that I’m very excited about… more on that soon!)

feelings-in-focus

Early 2016 I also made the difficult decision to postpone my dissertation and put my MA on hold in the summer. Life had just got on top of me and my uni course was one thing I could hit ‘pause’ on while waiting for everything else to settle down. I am coming back with a vengeance to complete it this year though!

Oh and I bought a flat and moved into my first ever home this year!!! I’m still not sure the reality has sunk in that home is now where I live, rather than being where my parents are, but planning the décor has gone into overdrive! I love my little corner of the world, my safe haven in the craziness that is London and 2017 is all about nesting and making it the cosiest, snuggliest place for me to come home to (and yes, there will be candles!).

This year I want to read and review more books, both old and new, and I want to write more. Despite experiencing the amazing feeling of seeing my book on a trip to Waterstones, I don’t really see myself as a writer. I write but, at the moment, I write only because it’s in my job description to. 2017 is going to be a transition year – the year I put all those half-baked ideas in my little head to paper, play with them and either use or discard them. I’ve thrown down the proverbial gauntlet so it will happen!

Whatever happens in the wider world or at home, 2017 is only going to be as good as year as we make it, so let’s step into it with positivity and a long TBR list!

2017-tbr

The start of my 2017 reading list!

0

Seven Magical Christmassy Joys

With just a week to go before the big day, I thought I’d write a small blog post about the seven things that make Christmas the most magical time of year for me (one for every day left to go, you see!)

elf-santas-coming

A love of Christmas and all it stands for is absolutely in my DNA. My beloved grandmother regularly had a minimum of three Christmas trees in her house every year and my parents have taken up the mantle by insisting on two! It is inarguably my favourite time of the year – a time to reflect on the past year, a time for friends and family and a time for giving.

So, with just seven days to go, here are my top seven Christmassy treats:

Christmas-scented Yankee Candles. Christmas really ramps up my Yankee Candle game and I’m not even sorry! Last year, the boy bought me a bumper pack of 12 Yankees and unleashed a candle fetish I never knew I had! My faves this year are Cosy By The Fire, Fireside Treats and Snowflake Cookie.

Yankee-Candles-Holiday.jpg

Texting my Mum my advent calendar surprise every morning. I don’t even remember when or how this started but every morning in December my mum and I text each other what was behind our door that day. It’s a silly tradition but one I love!

Present planning. I make a list and I check it twice! Now this usually starts in November because I can’t contain my excitement for purchasing presents – yep, I’m one of those people! I genuinely love thinking up unusual or surprising pressies for those near and dear.

Going back to the countryside. We spend Christmas deep in the heart of the countryside and I honestly can’t imagine spending the festive funtimes anywhere else. Log fires, local beer, squishy sofas and my attic bedroom all help to make my Christmas familiar yet magical.IMG_0369.JPG

Sparkles and glitter (otherwise known as the bane of my Grandad’s life!) The women in my family love glitter, sequins and anything sparkly but at Christmas time we tend to ramp up the volume! Glittery tops, shiny shoes, sequins in Christmas cards so it goes everywhere when the unsuspecting recipient opens it… you name it, we do it!

Festive films and foods. OK I’m cheating a little with this one as it’s technically two but I only have seven bullet points to play with here! Sitting down together with your loved ones is what Christmas is all about and if there are some killer nibbles (brie and cranberry parcels anyone?) or a massive cheeseboard lying around then so much the better! Elf and a cheese coma… that’s Christmas!

And finally, Christmas cheer. There’s something about this wonderful time of the year that makes everyone behave with a little more consideration towards our fellow man (or we should do at any rate!). You see friends you’ve been too busy see for what seems like months, donate to charities because it’s a time of giving, buy presents for strangers in the guise of Secret Santas and charity shoeboxes… the list is wonderful and endless!

What Christmas traditions are you looking forward to for next week?