The best children’s picture books dealing with emotions and change

Who am I?

Often, people don’t understand the emotions of a child. The care and keeping of children have been my life focus as a mother of five, 4-H leader, Kindergarten aide, religious education teacher, and owner of Whalen’s Country Childcare. I hold dear the awe and wonder seen in the eyes of a child and hope to forever be inspired by the sight. Since my new book, Little Red Rolls Away was released, I have presented at schools, libraries, appeared in newspapers, magazines, and been featured on CBS Good Day Sacramento. Endorsements include filmmaker Joey Travolta, Founder and Creative Director, Inclusion Films, a company that aims to teach the art of filmmaking to people with developmental disabilities.


I wrote...

Little Red Rolls Away

By Linda Whalen, Jennifer E. Morris (illustrator),

Book cover of Little Red Rolls Away

What is my book about?

When Little Red Barn wakes one morning, he finds his animal friends have gone. He's empty and alone. And then big noisy machines lift him up and put him on a truck. As Little Red is transported across the countryside, down a major river, and through city streets, he feels anxious and a little afraid. Where is he going? Who will be there when he reaches his destination? When Little Red does finally reach his new home in a surprising location, he finds things are even better than before.

While entertaining children, the story of the little barn's relocation and adjustment to a new place will reassure and comfort young readers facing changes in their own lives.

The books I picked & why

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Buster the Little Garbage Truck

By Marcia Berneger, Kevin Zimmer (illustrator),

Book cover of Buster the Little Garbage Truck

Why this book?

Loud noises often cause children to cover their ears but sometimes it scares them into a corner.  Buster wants to be the best garbage truck and work with his father. He practiced every skill he would need and mastered them all, except one. He was afraid of loud noises, especially air horns! Buster tried not being afraid, but it just didn’t work. He finally broke his fear when his friend was in danger. One of my favorite parts of this book showcases that sometimes fear isn’t rational. It just is. Another is when Buster took his thoughts off his fear to help his friend, he found he could become a great garbage truck.

Buster the Little Garbage Truck

By Marcia Berneger, Kevin Zimmer (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Buster the Little Garbage Truck as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Buster is a sweet little garbage truck. He can't wait to grow up to be a big truck, just like his father. Buster practices driving and lifting and beeping with his friend, Kitty. There's one small problem. Loud noises frighten Buster. When his father takes him to the truck yard to meet the other vehicles, their air-horn blasts and roaring engines send Buster skidding away to hide. He wants to be big and brave, but how can he work with Daddy and his friends when their loud sounds scare him? Buster feels terrible. When Kitty gets into trouble, little Buster…


The Day We Danced in Underpants

By Sarah Wilson, Catherine Stock (illustrator),

Book cover of The Day We Danced in Underpants

Why this book?

Embarrassment is a big emotion that can grab a child with hands of steel. In this beautifully rhyming book, an invitation to picnic with the King calls for new clothes. Told through the eyes of a child the very festive occasion takes a turn when Papa’s pants rip. Papa turned red but one can imagine the embarrassment this child had for her family. Fortunately, the King not only saves the day but makes it better. I think this kind of action is a good example of easing an awkward situation.

The Day We Danced in Underpants

By Sarah Wilson, Catherine Stock (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Day We Danced in Underpants as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An invitation to picnic with the King of France sends a young boy, his papa, two big dogs, and three wild aunts dancing their way across the French countryside. When the time comes to dine with the royals, Papa's energetic dance moves catch up with him and his worn pants burst at the seams. The stage is set for a wild party that finds even the stuffiest nobles getting down in their unmentionables.

Sarah Wilson's uproarious text makes for a boisterous read-aloud, but it's Catherine Stock's hilarious portrayals of cavorting courtiers and gallant guests that will have kids begging for…


Much Too Much Birthday (Maud the Koala)

By J.E. Morris,

Book cover of Much Too Much Birthday (Maud the Koala)

Why this book?

The title explains the way children often feel…much too much! We tend to overdo it when wanting to give our children too much of most things. Children become overwhelmed as Maud did. This book is a wonderful way to show children how this can happen and help them understand more isn’t always better and sometimes a break is best. I especially like the note to caregivers in the back.

Much Too Much Birthday (Maud the Koala)

By J.E. Morris,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Much Too Much Birthday (Maud the Koala) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Maud the koala can't wait for her birthday party--until everything starts to feel way too overwhelming.

Maud is having a birthday party in her backyard, and she's invited her friends--all fifty-six of them--to celebrate with her. She's not worried, though. After all, you can never have too much birthday! But when the guests arrive and the party gets packed, she isn't so sure. What will happen if Maud can't bear her own birthday?

J. E. Morris's charming illustrations and comic-like panels make this a unique format with a narrative style perfect for storytime.


The Star in the Christmas Play

By Lynne Marie, Lorna Hussey (illustrator),

Book cover of The Star in the Christmas Play

Why this book?

“I wish I was any animal but a giraffe,” said Raffi. Disappointment melts through this little(or not so little) guy like butter in the sun. When children set up hope for something and it doesn’t work out, they are devastated. Raffi realizes that while he is not suited for some things, he is just the right answer for another. Where there is a will there is a way.

The Star in the Christmas Play

By Lynne Marie, Lorna Hussey (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Star in the Christmas Play as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

All of the savanna animals are excited to audition for the school Christmas Play, except Raffi the giraffe. He's too tall to play baby Jesus, or Joseph, or even a manger animal. He feels discouraged, until he realizes that he's just the right size to play the most important part.

This endearing Christmas story for ages 4 to 8 will resonate with children who are still learning to be comfortable in their own skin.


Catch a Kiss

By Deborah Diesen, Kris Aro McLeod (illustrator),

Book cover of Catch a Kiss

Why this book?

It’s a special sadness children have when they lose something given to them by someone they love. Izze misses a kiss blown to her by her mother. No matter how hard she tries to catch it, she can’t. Her mother is wise and doesn’t just tell her it will be alright. Instead, she tells Izze a story and soon Izze is blowing kisses into the wind. The interaction is heartwarming.

Catch a Kiss

By Deborah Diesen, Kris Aro McLeod (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Catch a Kiss as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Izzie just loves when her mama blows her kisses to catch. Smooch kisses, zig-zag kisses, and even triple decker kisses! But even though she runs and leaps for it, Izzie misses a kiss! Her heart sinks as she watches it zip higher and higher into the sky. When Mama lets Izzie in on a sweet secret she realizes that her mama's love will always come to find her, no matter what! This silly and tender story is a universal one of a parent's love.


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