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Review: Sweep by Louise Grieg and Julia Sarda

A truly gorgeous picture book perfect for helping young children to tackle big emotions.

We have all experienced a time when a bad mood has such a grip on us that it feels we will never find our way out of it. In 'Sweep', Ed is experiencing such a mood and it comes in the form of a raging storm. Feelings of anger can often overwhelm young children to a point that they find it hard to find a way out, even if they want to. This beautiful picture book captures this experience in a visually perfect way that will help support a conversation around how this feels and how we might try to cope with big emotions like anger.

Ed is in a bad mood when the story starts and this bad mood is a raging storm that sweeps over him and sticks. The bad mood then sweeps Ed along and he begins to sweep up everything that gets in his way. Ed's bad mood thinks this is a good idea and, at this point, Ed agrees. Everything and everyone that Ed encounters is affected.

While he is so focused on sweeping, Ed is looking down and missing all of the beautiful things above and around him that usually make him happy. After a while, Ed begins to wonder if he agrees with his bad mood after all, but he has come so far now, how can he stop? Ed begins to wish that this bad mood had blown over quickly after all.

I loved the image of this bad mood suddenly descending on Ed and driving him to sweep aside everything he encountered and ignore the things that might make him happy. It's a clever analogy of a feeling that we have all had at one time or another in our lives. I was particularly pleased with the portrayal of Ed's bad mood as a separate entity throughout: he is not his bad mood - he is just swept along by it. When Ed begins to wish it would stop but the bad mood wants him to continue, it reminded me so much of that internal conflict that children have when their anger burns itself out but they are not quite sure how to return to normality.

When Ed begins to get tired, he realises something has to change. Another wind appears as suddenly as the raging storm; a wind that helps Ed to find the things that he loves again. There is an opportunity at the end of this wonderful story to think about how we might respond when feelings like this threaten to overwhelm us and spoil our day.

This book perfectly captures the way that emotions ebb and flow and affect how we experience the world and how we treat others. It also recognises that while feelings like this can be overwhelming, they are not permanent and how we might behave when we feel like this is not about the person that we are normally. Julia Sarda's gorgeous illustrations are full of interesting details that can also prompt lots of discussion. A perfect book to support children's emotional development.

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