Q&A with Poppy O’Neill, author of ‘Hello Feelings’

Q&A with Poppy O’Neill, author of ‘Hello Feelings’


Why this book?

I think the key to emotional wellbeing is feeling comfortable with our emotions. On top of difficult emotions themselves – like fear or sadness – many of us also feel anxious about feeling these emotions: whether it’s OK to feel them, whether we can talk about or show them, and how others might react if we do. I wanted to create a book that shows we can welcome in any emotion without feeling scared of it, and that when we do, emotions move on pretty easily.

Where did the idea/inspiration come from?

I have four pets – two cats and two dogs – each with very different personalities. I was inspired by how I’m pleased to see all of them, and wanted to play around with the idea of emotions as visitors: being just as welcoming when sadness comes in through the metaphorical cat flap as I am when joy does.

What do you hope children will get from reading this book?

I hope children will receive the message that it’s OK to feel how they feel, and that we don’t need to be afraid of our emotions – even the difficult ones.

How do you go about creating a poem like this?

I began by jotting down a rough idea of what the emotion feels like in our bodies, an idea for making it easier to feel, and how that emotion might say goodbye. From there I wrote four rhyming couplets for each emotion – like a mini story for each one, from hello to goodbye.

What’s your favourite thing about writing?

I love working out how to communicate big ideas into simple and creative words, and working with illustrators and editors to make those words into books.

Do you have a favourite character/part of the book?

It’s hard to pick one, but I think Fear is my favourite. I like how the boy doesn’t need to wait for fear to be completely gone before he’s ready to be brave.

Did the illustrator draw the feelings as you imagined them?

Yes! I love how friendly Ceej has made each of the emotion characters.

Why is meeting our feelings important?

We experience emotions every day, so how we respond to them has a big effect on our mental health. Getting comfortable and familiar with our feelings – and knowing they don’t stick around for long – helps us feel less stressed and more confident in ourselves.

How do you interact with your feelings?

I try to practise what I preach, and welcome whatever feeling comes along. I’ve learned particularly that feeling fear isn’t always a sign that I shouldn’t do something – it’s often a sign I’m about to do something brave.

Why did you choose a poem format for this book?

The first words that came to me – Hello sadness, it’s nice to meet you! What do you feel like? Can I eat you? – rhymed so I knew straight away it would be a poem. I felt a bit daunted by the challenge of writing a rhyming poem that was phonetically decodable, so in the spirit of the book I kept going and I’m very proud to have managed it!



Hello Feelings
Hello Feelings, written by Poppy O’Neill, illustrated by Ceej Rowland


We all have feelings, some feel nice, others do not. All feelings tell us something and all are temporary. Spend a bit of time with them all in this lovely poem and begin to get more comfortable with them all. What have your learned about your feelings?