In a bid to increase my repertoire, come with me on an alphabetical adventure through the themes, sentiments and takeaways of picture books.
As a teacher it is easy to get stuck in a rut, albeit a happy rut! When I think of picture books about anger, my first instinct, ( and don’t get me wrong, I am not about to stop using these little treasures) is to reach for Polly Dunbar’s Penguin or Hiawym Oram’s Angry Arthur – illustrated by the wonderful Satoshi Kitamura.
By the way, slightly unrelated but if you haven’t stumbled across Oram’s, Two old fogeys go to….series, they are definitely worth a look. A series about travelling later in life, when the spirit might be willing but the legs less so!
There is a wealth of picture books about this sadly omnipresent emotion and if we want to explore anger and try and get on its good side; it is probably best to have a big arsenal of books at our disposal, exploring rage from all perspectives.
Fergal is fuming by Robert Starling
A dragon with a short temper is not a good combination, as Fergal’s family and friends soon find out. He burns the dinner (literally), reduces the football goal to ashes and absolutely cannot play a nice, quiet board game. It is only when he starts to notice other animals have clever tricks to calm down that Fergal begins to win back his friends, especially when he discovers dragons can cool off in a very handy way.
I love the onomatopoeia used in this book, to describe Fergal’s angry outbursts and Starlings cognizance of the things that get children truly angry are spot on. Check out the spread of Fergal’s reaction to having to eat his greens! The different approaches presented by Fergal’s friends to help him cool down are gorgeous, including the old count to ten trick – suggested by mum. The cat stretching, (yoga anyone?) and I particularly like the wolf’s solution; climbing up a hill to make a really big noise. The wolfie equivalent of screaming into a pillow!
My Big Shouting Day by Rebecca Patterson
Bella is having one of those days – her biscuit is broken, she has a hurting foot and ballet is TOOOO itchy for words. All she can do is shout! But by the end of the day, when she’s all tired out from being shouty, Bella knows there’s one magic word and one magic mummy to make things better again…
This book has the ability to bring a tear to my eye. The spread when Mum, despite Bella’s protestations reads her a bedtime story and Bella apologises for her shouty day, is beautifully executed. I am terrible for random tears. This happened most recently when I discovered, Grandpa’s Island by Benji Davies. I was asked to read it while on a supply day and having never read it before, the spread when Grandpa leaves his walking stick behind, declaring, “ No, I think I’ll be alright…” took me by surprise! When asked by my year one class, who had missed the implications of this sub-plot, why I had a tear in my eye – I blamed the hay-fever. It was January! My Big Shouting Day, with its tear jerker spread, is possibly my new favourite book about anger.
Crankenstein by Samantha Berger, illustrated by Dan Santat
Who is Crankenstein?
He is a monster of grumpiness that no one can destroy! MEHHRRR! He’s alive!
He may look like any ordinary boy, but when faced with a rainy day, a melting ice lolly, or an early bedtime, one little boy transforms into a mumbling, grumbling Crankenstein. When Crankenstein meets his match in a fellow Crankenstein, the results could be catastrophic – or they could be just what he needs to brighten his day!
How can you not love this title! Also, check out the detail under the dust cover of the hardback version; the anatomy of a Crankenstein is revealed. Serious scare hair. A sneer from ear to ear! Fabulous and no doubt incredibly expensive to produce, (I’m not jealous, honest!) This book is sweet, simple and fun. I love the pay off, when the boy spots someone else as bad tempered as himself. Not only does he laugh and realise how silly he has been but he also gains a friend. His cranky mood is lifted for now…Check out, A Crankenstein Valentine too!
Comment below if you have any suggestions for books to be included. I am particularly looking for new releases. Next month, B is for Bravery.