Which I think makes me Huggtopus, the octopus who sometimes gets a little overexuberant with her enthusiastic hugging.
Kimochis are cute little dolls with feelings, and there are picture books to go along with them, Bug Makes a Splash, Cloud’s Best Worst Day Ever, and Cat’s Not-So-Perfect Sandcastle (disclaimer: we received these books and a mini Bug as free review copies). You can go to the Kimochis website to see the critters in all their ridiculous adorableness.
Now, listen: I am not generally a fan of messagey picture books, or ones that are obviously trying to get kids to think something in particular. Sure, all picture books are probably trying to get kids to feel something in particular, but I back away from books that seem to be all, “HELLO CHILDREN! FEEL THIS, PLEASE!”
So I was a little nervous about Kimochis. Would they be hitting me over head, telling me how my Feelings were Ok?
So: yeah. There is the definite sense that, you know, if you give a shy kid Bug, then it might help that kid to feel braver, since Bug is shy, and does things to feel braver. But before you get all gaggy, you should know that these books, and critters, and just so darn cute that you have to forgive them for talking to you about Feelings. As soon as we pulled our Bug out of the package, all my kids passed him around and cuddled with him (and then, well, fought over him, which is a Feeling he doesn’t really address). I will also say that the illustrations in the books (by Hanako Wakiyama) are FABULOUS — sweet and spare and totally fitting the books.
And as we were sitting there, reading them, I decided to get over myself. Not every book can be quirky and odd and hilarious (if they were all Chloe and the Lion, then Chloe and the Lion wouldn’t seem so remarkable). Also it occurred to me that we’ve been doing a bit of a Berenstain Bears marathon lately, and The Bears are nothing if not messagey.
And you know what? My kids love Kimochis. They think they are adorable, and they think the books are fun. Each book seems to have a silly part, and a sweet part, and a part that makes them kind of quiet and contemplative (likely thinking, “Yeah, I remember when I went totally nutbar just like Cloud is doing”) (which is kind of the point).
The website has some info for educators (including downloadable handouts for using Kimochis with autistic kids). I think these could be extremely useful in the classroom, where books about feelings (and controlling inappropriate ones) are even more needed than at home, I imagine, and Kimochis would be a welcome change from Bobby Bear Gets Angry and Hits Things Sometimes (ok, I just made that up, but I’m sure there are books like that).
Here’s my quick-and-dirty lowdown: get Bug Makes a Splash if you’ve got a shy kid, Cloud’s Best Worst Day Ever if you have a kid who sometimes gets giant angry feelings, and Cat’s Not-So-Perfect Sandcastle if you’re dealing with a little perfectionist. And definitely get the accompanying stuffed animal, because they’re adorable.
And, finally, here’s a video about Huggtopus. Because it’s so cute: