My First Bilingual Book: Feelings / Serbonzinho, by Milet Publishing
Feelings are not simple matters in any language. A book that, as this book does, attempts to describe feelings honestly and sympathetically while doing justice to how they are to be translated between two related but distinct tongues is going to need to give some understanding to this complexity. I was surprised and impressed by the level of nuance that was communicated in a book that is so simple to be part of a the “My First Bilingual Book” series as this one is. It is by no means easy to capture the complexity of feelings as they exist in multiple languages and to make it possible to understand in distinct tongues the common feelings that we have to deal with on a regular basis. This book, correspondingly, is less simple than the other books in the series and as such may not be easily understood by early elementary school students, but is something that, for all of its existence as a picture book, might be better suited to older readers who would otherwise be a bit turned off by it being so basic looking when it deals with subjects of greater depth than one would expect for children’s material, even if the authors consider it fit for toddlers.
This particular book contains various emotional states and the complexity and nuance for related but not identical emotional states that can easily be confused with each other. So it is that we open with a statement about being excited (enthusiastic) to do new things while not being bored. So too we move on to feeling empathetic when another child is sad, a feeling that not everyone may be able to relate to as a toddler and that some of us struggle with as adults. The author talks about feeling proud when one’s sibling is happy, another feeling that requires a degree of emotional resonance between people that may not be as universal as the authors assume. There is a nice touch about liking to be surprised (although I must admit I don’t tend to enjoy being surprised) unless one is frightened. There is a further nice touch about feeling grumpy when one is tired, which is something a lot of the book’s readers of any age will be able to relate to. In addition, the authors point out that when one is silent in the company of others one may be shy (a rather complicated word in Portuguese–envergonhado) or merely thoughtful/pensive. Likewise, the authors discuss a feeling of being worried/preoccupied when someone else is confused, so one helps him, assuming a high degree of emotional empathy on the part of the reader. Finally, the book ends with a discussion of how people feel joyful/happy when they feel loved, which is by no means a very straightforward matter.