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Shut Up And Feel: An Adult Picture Book On Emotions
DJ Corchin
Corchin collaborates again with illustrator Dan Dougherty (after A Thousand No’s and Do You Speak Fish?) in a sharp departure from squeaky-clean children’s lit. As the title suggests, Shut Up and Feel is both scathing and inspirational, an expletive-ridden and often raunchy picture book specifically for grown-ups that gives them the chance to enjoy Corchin’s straight-talking life guidance at a pointedly adult level. “Humans feel good and humans feel bad,” Corchin writes, then noting how we often swallow back our emotions for myriad reasons, which leads to all manner of consequences. His advice: that readers quiet that inner voice of suppression and “shut up and feel.”

Corchin’s motivational rhetoric is both comforting, amusingly militant, and aggressively profane, like a friend coming to the rescue in the face of a bully—but rather here the bully is the social pressure to acquiesce to the norm of repression. Corchin’s narrator rejects that tendency with irreverent advice on expressing emotions, like painting “fifty paintings in different shades of blue and then [putting] on an art show called ‘My Pain,’” but some of the suggestions are more pragmatic, like seeking therapy or quitting a job. Ultimately, Corchin encourages people to let go of expectations and give themselves permission to be messy, unpredictable, and emotional.

Dougherty’s illustrations bring Corchin’s loud message loudly to life. Every one of his characters demonstrate the liberating power of experiencing emotion uninhibited, including a woman in a wheelchair angrily popping balloons, an athlete in a hijab sprinting on a treadmill, a drag queen reading a picture book aloud with a full orchestra behind her, and even a Sausage Party-esque ménage à trois between frosting, cookie dough, and a pumpkin spice latte. They are angry, sad, joyful, anxious, tired, but, above all, free, and adults seeking humorous validation for their feelings will find that and more in Shut Up and Feel.

Takeaway: Aggressively profane adult picture book urging readers to let themselves feel.

Comparable Titles: Adam Mansbach’s Go the F**k to Sleep Yumi Sakugawa’s There Is No Right Way to Meditate and Other Lessons.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A