Big Bright Feelings by Tom Percival

Bloomsbury have a gorgeous series by talented author and illustrator Tom Percival consisting of four titles, and known as the big bright feelings collection. Each has been assigned a vibrant coloured cover, and focuses on its own main character – Norman, Ruby, Meesha and Ravi. Each book focuses on feelings relevant to younger audiences in settings and circumstances that they will often find relatable, proving invaluable as they learn whilst becoming engrossed in the story that they will undoubtedly enjoy.

Meesha Makes Friends

This book in the series tells of a talented young girl that enjoys making things, but struggles to make friends. Meesha tries and fails to make friends in places readers will recognise such as school settings and parties. At the latter Meesha struggles, and finds a quiet corner to make things – something that she enjoys immensely because it makes her feel good, and comes across Josh, a young boy that also seems to be looking to escape the other children and noise at the party. When Josh asks to join in Meesha is hesitant, but before long the pair have created something brilliant, and show the other children their creations – with the children delighted and wanting to join in. By the end of the story Meesha has made lots of friends, and for the best of reasons – she was being herself.

This is an ideal read for all children, with those that are struggling to make friends being the obvious choice of audience. At some point in their early childhood most children feel left out or lonely, and this book serves as a fantastic way to reassure them that there is a happy ending for them, and that being true to yourself is something to be proud of too.

Ravi’s Roar

This book in the series tells of a young boy that is constantly last at everything and struggling with being able to join in with even what should be fun activities such as playing at the park, because he is the youngest in the family – and consequently the smallest too. For most of the time Ravi enjoys being the smallest, but when the family are enjoying a picnic at the park Ravi is unable to do one thing after another, and his temper builds up until he becomes so angry he reflects how is feeling by being loud, inconsiderate, and determined to take part in everything he has missed out on. It isn’t long before Ravi realises nobody wants to be around him or play with him either, and he realises his temper getting the better of him was wrong and does the right thing – apologising to his family.

Younger audiences will find Ravi’s story relatable, either through feeling that way themselves sometimes or witnessing that behaviour in others, and being able to emphasise with those that have felt that way. Whether the youngest themselves or having younger siblings they can relate the book to, this story really makes you see that little things can have a knock on effect on people, and build up to become something much bigger. Ravi being honest and caring enough to apologise serves as a great lesson for younger audiences to come to appreciate, and will likely help them understand that sometimes it is how we deal with knowing we reacted wrong that counts most.

Ruby’s Worry

This book in the series tells of a girl called Ruby who is happy being an explorer, playing in her garden, when suddenly she notices something small following her around – a worry. As Ruby thinks about this new companion she finds it growing bigger and bigger, but nobody else can see it,not her teacher or her parents. The worry grows and grows until it is enormous, and Ruby begins to accept the likelihood of it following her about forever and stopping her doing what she enjoys. But then Ruby goes for a walk and spots a boy with his own worry beside him, and realising she isn’t the only one with a worry is a huge relief to her. Ruby chats with the boy, noticing that his worry shrinks each time he talks about it, and soon she talks about her own, delighted that it reduces in size too.

All children worry, it is something that we cannot control, and comes out of the blue taking us by surprise as it happens, so this book is perfect material for reassuring children that worrying is normal, and we all do so at times. Importantly the story depicts the best way to cope with worries, and that sharing our stresses and concerns is the best approach to overcoming how it makes you feel. The story concludes saying that Ruby has worries in the future too but has learnt the best way to cope with them, and it is incredibly significant for children to know that it isn’t a one off to worry and that they do come back, and that’s ok because they can be overcome in the same way too. Knowing that talking things through with others can be the best medicine is an important message for younger audiences to hear, and will doubtlessly encourage them to do so too.

Perfectly Norman

In this book from the series we are introduced to Norman, a young boy who always seems so normal in everything he does, and then one day Norman grows wings and is able to fly. After initially enjoying his flight Norman becomes worried that others will realise he is different, no longer normal, and so he decides to hide the wings that make him different. Doing so restricts Norman from activities he would usually enjoy such as swimming and taking a bath, and Norman soon resents having his wings and being different to others. Only when Norman sees birds flying in the sky does he recall how it felt when he could fly, and so he decides to stop hiding his wings and be proud of who he is, only to find others had been hiding their true selves and inspiring them to do the same.

Norman’s story provides reassurance to younger audiences that don’t feel they fit in, and encourages them to be proud of who they are and own it. The story puts Norman in situations and locations that children will recognise, and the relatable feel this book gives will ensure children cherish the story, whilst taking it with them long after the story ends.

When each of these characters are facing their respect anxieties and feelings the illustrations in the book change from gorgeous full colour in design to that of black and white. That contrast amplifies the message within the text, giving readers an insight into how the character is feeling at that time in the book. When the characters overcome their concerns and worries the colour returns to the illustrations giving readers an understanding of how everything has got better within the story, and a heart warming happy ending. Each and every one of the characters that feature in the series is brave, courageous, and ideal role model material for the intended younger audiences – especially as they often overcome tough emotions for their ages, and will admit to being wrong where relevant too.

These books would be perfect within a school library, which is where these will eventually find there forever home, once I have given them to a teacher I have in mind to share with their class. This collection would work well in lower years PHSE lessons too, and should be shared widely knowing that their will be children amongst those audiences that are listening that will relate to the content and find comfort in the pages.

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