Kid's Stuff -- Books About Anger and Emotions
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"Hands Are Not For Hitting"
Written by Marine Agassi
Illustrated by Marieka Heinlen
(Free Spirit, 2000)

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"When Sophie Gets Angry -- Really Really Angry..."
Written by Molly Bang
Illustrated by Molly Bang
(Scholastic, 1999)

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"The Chocolate-Covered-Cookie Tantrum"
Written by Deborah Blumenthal
Illustrated by Harvey Stevenson
(Clarion, 1999)

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"What's Wrong, Little Pookie?"
Written by Sandra Boynton
Illustrated by Sandra Boynton
(Robin Corey Books, 2007)

Here's another winner from one of our most beloved children's book authors... It's about those little moods that flash through a toddler's mind, and the trouble that occurs when strong emotions -- unhappiness or dissatisfaction or irritation or boredom or helplessness -- collide with a little person's inability to explain what they are feeling, or why. Little Pookie is in a big funk, and his/her caregiver asks a bunch of questions to find out why. The adult's question appear in bold, dark typeface; Pookie replies in little red letters. Are you tired? No. Are you hungry? No. Did you lose something? No. Finally, the adult realizes that an actual answer probably isn't possible, and starts to ask silly, nonsense questions that help Little Pookie laugh a little and get unstuck. This call-and-response structure makes this a really fun book for parents and kids to read together; the only downside is that it interferes with Boynton's normally elegant rhymes. Still, I doubt many readers will mind, considering what a lovely little book it is (and what a nice tool to help build emotional intelligence)... Highly recommended! (A)


"The Way I Feel"
Written by Janan Cain
Illustrated by Janan Cain
(Parenting Press, 2000)

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"Glad Monster, Sad Monster: A Book About Feelings"
Written by Ed Emberley & Anne Miranda
Illustrated by Ed Emberley
(Little, Brown & Co., 1997)

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"Mean Soup"
Written by Betsy Everitt
Illustrated by Betsy Everitt
(Voyager, 1995)

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"Sometimes I Feel Like A Storm Cloud"
Written by Lezlie Evans
Illustrated by Marsha Gray Carrington
(Mondo Publishing, 1999)

A young girl moves through various emotional states -- happiness, sadness, anger, pride, weariness, loneliness, excitement -- each illustrated in a two-page spread. I wasn't bowled over by this one -- I thought it was a little disjointed and inelegant -- but I suppose it's nice if you want to explore or validate a range of emotions with your kids. Worth checking out, for sure! (C+)


"That Makes Me Mad"
Written by Steve Kroll
Illustrated by Christine Davenier
(Sea Star, 2002)

A useful guide to the emotional life of small children, this is a nice book that helps children articulate strong feelings, and helps adults understand what's going on inside those busy, tiny little heads. A little girl goes through a series of "What really makes me mad is when..." statements, many of which will sound familiar to both parents and small children. In dramatic terms, this is a little stiff, but it provides a great opportunity to discuss some very charged issues, and help children build an emotional vocabulary so they can learn how to express their darker thoughts and solve the problems that roil them up. (B)


"I'm Sorry"
Written by Sam McBratney
Illustrated by Jennifer Eachus
(Harper Collins, 2000)

An exploration of negative emotions and fights among friends, written by the author of Guess How Much I Love You. This is very similar to Kim Lewis' Friends, with a little boy and a little girl arguing and getting mad at each other, and then making up. However, this book has a heavier hand, and lingers on the upsetting emotional content much longer. My girl found this book to be very upsetting, in a way that Lewis' book was not. (She sat impassively when I read it the first time, and then, the next day when her mom picked it up, told her not to read it, announcing, "That's a bad book," which I've never heard her say before, about anything...) There are a couple of reasons for this, I think. First, the exploration of negative emotion is quite protracted, and the resolution is framed hypothetically, rather than seen as an actual event (the boy who is narrating says, "If my friend were as sad as I am sad, this is what she would do: She would come and say I'm sorry, and I would say I'm sorry, too.") Similarly, the cause of their fight isn't made clear -- he simply informs us midway that "I SHOUTED at my friend today..." but doesn't explain why. In the Lewis book, the fight is explained as part of the plot (the children are both trying to hold the same object, an egg, and break it by accident) but this same plot point is used to resolve their anger (they find another egg, and learn how to share). McBratney's book, however, just has them getting mad at each other, seemingly for no reason at all. This may be fine for adult readers, who just assume that children will fight from time to time, and that their reasons are inconsequential. For little readers, though, it seems like you'd want to better explain what was happening and why, so that they can make a little more sense out of it, and to have more respect for the causes of their emotions. Anyway, I didn't care for this book much, either, although other families may find it more useful. (C)


"When I Feel Afraid"
Written by Cheri J. Meiners
Illustrated by Merideth Johnson
(Free Spirit, 2004)

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"Talk And Work It Out"
Written by Cheri J. Meiners
Illustrated by Merideth Johnson
(Free Spirit, 2004)

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"Angry Dragon"
Written by Thierry Robberecht
Illustrated by Philippe Goossens
(Clarion, 2004)

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"When I Feel Angry"
Written by Cornelia Maude Spelman
Illustrated by Nancy Cote
(Whitman, 2000)

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"When You Are Happy"
Written by Eileen Spinelli
Illustrated by Geraldo Valerio
(Simon & Schuster, 2006)

An optimistic, colorful book that acknowledges all kinds of emotions, negative and positive alike, and seeks to put a cheerful spin on things even as it validates the dark side of things. The narrator-parent offers unconditional love and comfort in the face of sadness, anger and fear, and wraps things up by saying how wonderful it is when lil' Pookums is happy and smiley, and how that's the best thing of all. A couple of passages veer on the icky-sweet, but mostly it's nice to have a book that talks about emotions and helps define the strong, often overwhelming feelings that toddlers and preschoolers are engulfed by. A good tool to help little kids talk about their emotions. (B)


"Sometimes I'm Bombaloo"
Written by Rachel Vail
Illustrated by Yumi Heo
(Scholastic, 2002)

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"Words Are Not For Hurting"
Written by Elizabeth Verdick
Illustrated by Marieka Heinlen
(Free Spirit, 2004)

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Just For Adults

"The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children"
Written by Ross W. Greene
(Harper, 2005)

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"Seeing Red: An Anger Management and Peacemaking Curriculum for Kids"
Written by Jennider Simmonds
(New Society, 2003)

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"A Volcano In My Tummy: Helping Children To Handle Anger"
Written by Eliane Whitehouse & Warwick Purdey
(New Society, 1996)

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