Learning about feelings, building resilience with Cyril Squirrel

Cyril Squirrel Finds Out About Love, by Jane Evans (2016) Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

I was very pleased to be asked to review this book, having first met Jane around the time she was starting to write the first of her books for young children. Jane is a trauma parenting specialist with many years experience in the field of domestic violence, fostering and, most recently, work on the brain responses to trauma. We met at the Oxford APV conference, and of course the experience of early trauma does seem to be a factor for many families where there is child to parent violence. If we can get things right early on with resources such as these books, then we can hopefully help parents create a healthier and more resilient environment for their children.

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Cyril Squirrel Finds Out About Love is Jane’s fourth book exploring feelings and emotions; with bright, engaging illustrations by Izzy Bean. Aimed primarily at 2 to 6 year olds (but anecdotally appreciated by older children as well) – and all those caring or working for them, this book helps in understanding love, friendship and kindness, and works on many levels.

The basic story follows Cyril’s quest to discover the nature of love and where it might be found, but along the way there are things to spot on the page and questions to ask, and – as we have learned to expect from Jane – lots of naming of other emotions and feelings, and reminders about personal safety. With additional activities at the end for both adults and children, this is packed full of useful material and very successfully bridges quite a wide age range. It is a wonderful book to read to any child, but will be particularly useful for those engaging with young children whose early lives have been disrupted, and who may struggle to see love around them.

Jane’s earlier books follow a similar structure, helping children to identify and talk about feelings, and to understand the complexities of an unpredictable life. The third book, exploring anxiety, offers an endearing and accessible manual for children and adults on the working of the brain.

How Are You Feeling Today Baby Bear (illustrated by Laurence Jackson) 2014

Kit Kitten And The Topsy-Turvy Feelings (illustrated by Izzy Bean) 2015

Little Meerkat’s Big Panic (illustrated by Izzy Bean) 2016

Cyril Squirrel Finds Out About Love (illustrated by Izzy Bean) 2016

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