Book Review: Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox by Danielle Daniel

book review

In this book, Métis author-illustrator Danielle Daniel shares the Anishinaabe tradition of totem animals with children and it is stunning. And simple. And, oh so useful.

I was in a local bookstore with my eldest and she saw the cover and immediately said, “I love this book! We read it in Nature Kindergarten last year. It was one of my favourites.” Of course, I picked it up and looked at it and thought, “Perfect.” Perfect because I was struggling with my almost 3 year old’s emotions and understanding them and she clearly was, too. I often lean on literature to help me decipher feelings or circumstances, especially when kids don’t seem to understand such complexities, themselves.

Helps to teach emotions and feelings

The traditional toddler/preschooler-level books geared at revealing the complexity of emotions weren’t cutting it with this kid: ‘happy’ and ‘sad’ were too simplistic and binary. By comparison, this book is calming and helped to build a new connection for herself and even others, creating space for empathy. There is something relatable for kids to connect how they’re feeling with an animal, I think. Makes sense with totems being such a long-lasting tradition and all.

Teaching tool

In her kindergarten program, my eldest daughter’s teacher extended this idea into an art and drama project with her class, having the kids decide who their ‘spirit animal’ was and creating a paper mâché mask of it. This facilitated a lot of talk about emotions and helped to build empathy for others, too.

Reading level

The format of this book is simple and repetitive, but the language is not; Daniel uses fairly advanced vocabulary and references more complex emotions traits, for example “intuitive and discreet”. As such, this book can serve as a great read aloud, but also a good book for a beginner reader who is keen on trying a trickier (but familiar) read.

I highly recommend Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox, but Danielle Daniel. Recommended for ages 2 and up.

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