The compass of emotions. From anger to happiness, the emotions told to the boys (2019) by A. Pellai and B. Tamborini – Review of the book

The compass of emotions. From anger to happiness, the emotions told to the boys (2019) by A. Pellai and B. Tamborini – Review of the book

A book on adolescence and emotions, a practical and interactive guide for children and adults to discover how the emotional brain works.


Alberto Pellai, doctor, psychotherapist of the developmental age, researcher and known to the public for having hosted the program This house is not a hotel on Radio24, and his wife, pedagogist, writer and mother of their 4 children, Barbara Tamborini, together propose a book aimed at pre-adolescent and adolescent children able to help them orient themselves in understanding their mind and their emotions.

Why a manual for understanding emotions? And why address it directly to the boys?

Anyone who has known a pre-adolescent or adolescent boy (or simply if we try to make an effort to remember those turbulent years in which the personality begins to structure itself) knows that emotions are often experienced as a violent tsunami that takes over and leaves no way out.

This book can be seen as a guide to self-analysis of one’s emotions. In this sense, the title itself, The compass of emotions, refers to the possibility for children to finally have a book in their hands to orient themselves within six primary emotions: sadness, fear, disgust, anger, surprise and joy.

The book addresses complex issues of neuroscience and recent scientific discoveries on the brain using a simplified language, accessible even to children. The guide helps children understand how the different levels of our brain work. For example, it explains why the incomplete cerebral maturation leads the adolescent to feel at the mercy of his own emotions, unable to modulate and manage them.

The brain is presented by the authors as a three-story house, the ground floor of which is the survival floor, the second floor corresponds to the emotional brain and the top floor consists of the cognitive brain, thanks to which it is possible to control and modulate emotional conflicts.

The book is divided into seven parts which include specific chapters on each emotion with tests created to show children how they relate to emotions. Each concept is accompanied by examples useful for the reader to understand the contents in a fun way. For each emotion there are advice on how to manage emotional situations and personal life stories that the young person can compare to his experiences.

Finally, a section is dedicated to filmography. This includes films of films for every emotion, useful for children to have concrete images that can push them to a deeper reflection on the subject.

The Compass of emotions is not just a book for children, the compass also becomes very useful for parents who very often feel helpless in the face of these teenage emotional storms.

It is thus a book that deserves to be read by everyone, children, parents, educators and teachers to guide them in understanding this delicate and often misunderstood moment in the life of a pre-adolescent / adolescent!