The Noise Inside Boys: A Story About Big Feelings by Pete Oswald

Emotions Feelings Pete Oswald Picture Book

After a long time I was compelled to write a review about a picture book as soon as I finished reading it.

I had my eyes set on ‘The Noise Inside Boys’ by Pete Oswald when I first came to know of the book. I had loved Hike, his first solo picture book as an author/illustrator and was eagerly waiting for this one. I am glad it doesn’t disappoint.

The story is set against the backdrop of a beach, drawing inspiration from real-life experiences. When two older brothers tease their younger sibling, it brings forth a flood of overwhelming emotions and a strong desire to distance oneself. Through a vivid array of vibrant colors, the book emphasizes the significance of recognizing and comprehending these turbulent feelings.

The book starts with a beautiful salutation:

Dear Boys,

I’m not here to tell you what to feel, how to feel or when to feel. JUST FEEL.

Love Dad

This heart-touching message sets the tone and intent of the author – a father wanting to impart some knowledge and empathy to his sons. No feeling is big or small, every feeling is valid no matter what the situation is. What matters is to understand and acknowledge them.

Also sometimes the noise outside may confuse us and invalidate our inner feelings, leaving us confused.

Take a beat. This moment won’t last. Breathe in, breathe out. Let the noises pass.
Take my hand. I’m by your side. It’s time to name the feelings inside.

From this point on it might appear that what started off as a beautiful premise treads down the familiar path of merely listing varied feelings alongside a colour coded spread of images. It only talks about identifying one’s feelings and doesn’t deliberate on how to process those big feelings.

My opinion is that the book never intended to deal with the how but focusses on starting a conversation that it is okay for boys to feel a wide gamut of emotions. All their feelings are valid. And I think it serves as a good starting point for this discussion.

In Pete’s words:

As a father of three boys, I want to help my sons understand and embrace their own feelings. I believe there’s a problematic history of males not feeling comfortable with emotional intelligence. Writing and illustrating this book has been a cathartic journey that has allowed me to be to become more vulnerable and authentic with own emotions and how it relates to being a father. When young ones learn how to harness emotional literacy, they become more resilient, can have a deeper connection with the world around them, and have the ability to navigate life’s tough moments.

The book ends with a lovely ‘Know How You Feel’ display with 20 varied emotions expressed by a diverse group of children.

I love the watercolour illustrations that marvellously complement the book. Some pages have minimal to no text and the pictures do a lovely job of carrying the story ahead.

To sum up, here are my favourite lines from the book:

“Your feelings are yours - each one is okay.
What you’re feeling today may soon go away.
Listen to your emotions - learn how to name them.
Then you’ll know better how to explain them.”

I think this beautiful picture book should be read by all. The younger boys should be able to understand and navigate their feelings and, as they grow older, have the freedom to express them without any fear of judgement.

Older Post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published