Award-Winning Books International It's Monday What Are You Reading Literatura Europa Picture Books Reading Themes

[Monday Reading] Mies Van Hout’s Bold and Bright Picturebooks in “Happy” and “Friends”


It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

I discovered Dutch artist’s Mies Van Hout’s picturebooks last year. There is something so bold and bright, simple yet powerful in the way that she creates these black-paged picturebooks that appeal to me so.


Written and Illustrated by: Mies Van Hout
Published by: Lemniscaat 2011. Originally published in the Netherlands as VrolijkISBN: 1935954148 (ISBN13: 9781935954149)Literary Award: Kinderboekwinkelprijs (2012). Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me. 

I often struggle to find picturebooks that would easily demonstrate in a largely non-didactic way the various shades of emotions to very young children. There are quite a few books for older readers that would allow them to deduce the emotions on their own in the narrative. However, for preschool-aged children, there are so few that go beyond the smiley faces/ emoticons.

Then comes along Mies Van Hout with her bright colours, one single emotion per page, with little fishes whose shades of feelings are illuminated so perfectly in the images.

It is so stark and simple one wonders why something like this has not been done before. It is also developmentally sound as most young children are found to gravitate so naturally to bold and bright colours. It is visually appealing and at the same time emotionally engaging:

I have used this picturebook countless of times in my professional development workshops with teachers and parents, and it just never gets old. Why rely on the staid, boring, unappealing emoticons when you can have something like this:

This is definitely one book that would be very popular among young readers. Each page also invites an entire story from imaginative young writers.


Written and Illustrated by: Mies Van Hout
Published by: Lemniscaat, 2012. ISBN: 11935954237 (ISBN13: 9781935954231. Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me. 

Once again, this picturebook by Mies Van Hout has blown me away. One of the courses I teach is how to use multicultural picturebooks for social and emotional learning. One of the key competencies in the social and emotional learning framework is Relationship Management. 

This is one prime title that shows the entire life cycle of friendship and conflict resolution using just one simple word per page – matched with exciting, psychedelic art – from getting along and playing…

… transitioning ever so gradually to something that most adults or parents or teachers are all-too-familiar with, as children naturally get into each other’s nerves, fight, and cry.

Then, ultimately, ever-so-gently, finding the courage to eventually make-up and be friends again. How brilliant is that, really. The entire story of a friendship told in one word per page. Perfect for very young readers.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

2 comments on “[Monday Reading] Mies Van Hout’s Bold and Bright Picturebooks in “Happy” and “Friends”

  1. I really like the look of Mies Van Hout’s books. Those bold pages really stand out.


  2. What a lovely book! Such vibrant colors!


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