Feeling Boo

Abrams. Aug. 2024. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781419772443.
Gr 1-3–In a thoughtful, clever, heartfelt, and sometimes humorous look at mental health, Boniello, Lavalle, and Mueller introduce young readers to Ellie and Ollie—ghosts who have been friends for hundreds of years. They play together every night, but when Ollie wakes up “feeling a bit boo,” Ellie feels it is her mission to make him happy again by doing all their usual games and tricks. Ellie convinces her friend to try making shadow puppets, slamming furniture, and more to no avail. Finally Ollie finds the courage to ask Ellie to simply sit together. It is then that Ellie learns sometimes all you need to do is be there for your friend. At times the worthy message gets lost in the language. The story is filled with many turns of phrase that occasionally feel forced and would be challenging for younger kids to comprehend, such as “To begin their specter-tacular night,” “Ellie yawned, half dead from the night’s activities,” and “Maybe not, quoth, for evermore.” For adults, they are fun and clever, but will require explaining for littler folks. Mueller’s art, however, can be enjoyed by all, with her haunting hues and cute snowman-faced ghosts. The illustrations lend support to the story and context for some of the phrases.
VERDICT The important message found between the pages of this book needs to be heard by little ones, and even if they do not completely understand some of the text, perhaps the book is the spark to get their caretakers talking about mental health.

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