July/August 2022 Kids Indie Next List
“Terribly adorable illustrations show all kinds of emotions as they live their lives within us. A great first exploration into the realm of emotions for young people and a great reminder for the older set!”
— Sam Coons, Cupboard Maker Books, Enola, PA
An unruly cast of emotions come alive in this romping dreamworld, a place Maurice Sendak’s Wild Things could call home
Curiosity, a lithe and floppy-eared creature, perches above the open world and gazes out with a zippy blend of hope, wonder, and longing. From the tip of a chimney, we bound into the quiet and mischievous world of feelings, meeting a troupe of tufted creatures as we go. Sympathy helps snails cross a sidewalk to safety, fear pirouettes in an attempt to camouflage with wallflowers, and pleasure reclines across a doily-donned reading chair, sipping a cup of tea. Elsewhere, our insecurities – pesky, cavorting beings – build intricate cages and stride about with clattering sets of keys. Tina Oziewicz’s words hum with truth, and Aleksandra Zajac’s illustrations bloom and burst with charming details like a sail constructed out of a pair of billowing long johns or a red slipper falling from a contented paw. Taking in the perfect harmony of this book is like taking a long gulp from a trusty thermos and filling up with warmth. What Feelings Do When No One’s Looking surprises and soothes, inspires us to feel.
About the Author
Tina Oziewicz is a Polish author and translator of children's literature. While working as a translator and teacher, she began writing stories for children and published her first picture book in 2007. She has since published ten works of children's literature.
Translator Jennifer Croft was awarded the Man Booker International Prize in 2018 and a National Book Award Finalist for her translation from Polish of Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights. She is the recipient of Fulbright, PEN, MacDowell, and National Endowment for the Arts grants and fellowships, as well as the inaugural Michael Henry Heim Prize for Translation and a Tin House Workshop Scholarship for her memoir Homesick. She is a founding editor of The Buenos Aires Review and currently divides her time between Buenos Aires and Los Angeles.
Illustrator Aleksandra Zając (b. 1988), a graduate of the Art Department at Opole University, works on graphic design, drawing and modelling in clay. Her project of the illustrated children’s book Dziksy was shortlisted to the final stage of the Clairvoyants 2014 international competition. What Feelings Do When No One’s Looking is her debut publication.
"Each feeling described here—gratitude, envy, nostalgia and the like—takes the shape of a quirky monster. A few of the creatures resemble hedgehogs or owls; some have rounded noses and others pointed ones . . . We see Bliss zonked out in an oversize armchair, its frilled ears splayed wide and a beatific smile on its little gray face. Envy wears a spiteful expression as it crushes flowers underfoot . . . [The book’s creators] suggest that while children should beware the negative feelings that lurk within, they should remember that positive emotions are there too, ready to kindle an inner light when no one’s looking."
--Meghan Cox Gurdon, Wall Street Journal
"This is a uniquely beautiful and original book. The extraordinary illustrations, done mostly in shades of gray with just occasional color, are more than perfect in picturing the concepts of the book . . .The words are so lovingly rendered with the illustrations."
--Katrina Yurenka, Youth Services Book Review, Starred Review
"[Aleksandra Zając's] crisp, fine lines and gray-tone palette (with subtle touches of coral, sky blue and sage) ensure that even the more volatile emotions, such as Anger, won't frighten the youngest readers . . . This is a picture book filled with surprises . . . Oziewicz has a startlingly succinct and evocative way of capturing these feelings . . . What Feelings Do When No One's Looking will prompt thoughtful conversations about the wide range of feelings a person can experience. It's exactly the sort of book that . . . all children need." – Julie Danielson, BookPage
"What Feelings Do When No One's Looking offers pandemic-weary children the opportunity to make sense of the complicated emotions they may be feeling and concrete examples of the feelings they wish to foster, such as joy, kindness, courage, calm, and compassion."
--Mary Ann Cappiello and Erika Thulin Dawes, Text Sets and Trade Books
"A unique picture book of surprises . . . What Feelings Do When No One's Looking will prove to be an enduringly popular, fun, and unique addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections."
--Midwest Book Review
"I am captivated by this book. It is beautifully executed, with thoughtful words and exquisite illustrations. The charming creatures are engaging and invite reflection and conversation. I think this is a book that belongs in every school library, public library, and therapist collection in addition to being in family homes. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is so touching that I find myself returning to it repeatedly. I will definitely be adding it to my list of gift books."
--Ellen Cutter, Bookseller at Magic Tree Children's Books
"What Feelings Do When No One's Looking provides an intimate look at what our emotions are doing when we aren't experiencing them . . . The art stands out for me . . . its soothing grays calm the psyche and invite the observer to be at peace with each emotion, regardless of positive or negative connotation. Some children's picture books leave a discernible feeling of serenity; this was one of those."
--Glass of Wine, Glass of Milk
"The sparely detailed gray or pale-hued drawings and even sparer text create soothing visual and verbal rhythms as pages turn . . . A nuanced, ruminative alternative to the general run of more limited, toddler-aimed emotional palettes."
"What Feelings Do When No One’s Looking is a lovely book that explores all kinds of feelings—those that are pleasant to feel and those that aren’t so much, those that are clear as day and others that are more nuanced. Each feeling is represented as a fun little creature, and the thoughtful sentiments throughout leave room for conversation with young readers. A wonderful way to encourage open dialogue about feelings."
--Mary Wahlmeier Bracciano, Raven Book Store
"What Feelings Do When No One’s Looking is truly a masterpiece! A children’s story that inspires us to feel. Every single feeling is articulated beautifully with illustrations that reflect it perfectly. A must read!"
"[Aleksandra Zając's] crisp, fine lines and gray-tone palette (with subtle touches of coral, sky blue and sage) ensure that even the more volatile emotions, such as Anger, won't frighten the youngest readers . . . This is a picture book filled with surprises . . . Oziewicz has a startlingly succinct and evocative way of capturing these feelings . . . What Feelings Do When No One's Looking will prompt thoughtful conversations about the wide range of feelings a person can experience. It's exactly the sort of book that . . . all children need."
--Julie Danielson, BookPage
"Freedom sets sail on the wide sea. Compassion carefully helps snails across sidewalks. Envy tramples as many beautiful things it can find . . .Through these and numerous other examples, the truth about feelings is gently, positively conveyed, making What Feelings Do When No One’s Looking an amazing and important book."
--Kendal Rautzhan, Books to Borrow . . . Books to Buy
"The book’s spreads often include only one-liners, offering space for delightful art that extends the meaning of the text . . . Readers will give thanks for this thought-provoking read."
--Chris Stuckenschneider, Book Buddy
"This beautifully designed book features illustrations by Aleksandra Zając of floppy-eared creatures who bring a range of emotions to life . . . Children ages 3-7 will love this book."
--Jen Kraar, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "7 Books to Give to Readers on Your List This Holiday”