“My head feels alone, and my heartbeats feel mad.

My tummy is tingling; it’s hungry and sad.”

So starts the picture book for children to understand those big feelings – mad, sad and scared – and learn what to do with them when the world feels topsy turvy. While the phrase “COVID-19” isn’t mentioned by name, the pandemic and its fallout – isolation, fear and boredom – certainly is and I found myself nodding along at parts.

“Where should I go and what can I do…

When I’ve played in my places, one-million-times-two?

The bathroom, the bedrooms, the kitchen, the halls,

The closets and doorways – I’m tired of them all.”

Author Kristin Greco, the clinical director and founder of Newmarket Psychotherapy Team, a private mental health clinic, does a great job reminding the main character – and readers – that children aren’t alone in their feelings, that if you are sick of your house or upset when your parents are angry, it’s likely a child somewhere else is feeling the exact same way.

Greco also writes that while everyone has the same feelings and it’s OK to voice them (including talking to other people) and find methods of helping you get through them, each person, she writes, is “special, outstanding, unique.”

After the story is told, Greco offers educational concepts and exercises including talking further about big feelings; locus of control; and self-soothing strategies.

I enjoyed Smart in My Heart. I liked how Greco presented the ideas of these big feelings (I love the idea of heartbeats feeling mad. What a great way to explain that), but that kids, despite feeling so, are actually not alone. People understand.

The illustrations of kids being stuck at home were pretty fantastic (I can see most of these poses happening, including the child with a bucket on her head) and the one of the mom in the backroom was powerful.

Smart in my Heart is a good read for helping kids through these continually changing times.

A copy of Smart in my Heart was from Kristien Greco for an honest review. The opinions are my own.

Visit www.smartinmyheart.ca to learn more about the book and watch the virtual read aloud.

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