Here in London, we’re in the death throes of summer, and this ballsy broad isn’t leaving without a fight. While 5 day runs of 90+ degree heat may be the norm in some places (and certainly weren’t out of the ordinary where I grew up), this heat hits different in the UK. Our old city offers little to no air conditioning, and window screens just…aren’t? So we close windows at night to bask in the fan’s hot breath while we dream of our usual temperate weather, only to wake from restless sleep with shorter tempers. It’s a recipe for some serious spats.
In Way Past Mad – a book by Hallee Adelman, illustrated by Sandra de la Prada – anger is examined in a scenario-driven story. It follows a young girl whose day begins on the wrong foot and shows her slowly growing feeling of anger – anger that “starts and swells and spreads like a rash.” It fills her and spills on to someone she loves, and she must learn how to reckon with the consequences.
What I love about this book is its universal relatability. We’ve all been there; on a bad day, one small thing can lead to another and snowball until we’re in our heads, fighting imaginary arguments as our emotions run off the rails. We say things we don’t mean, we lash out, because – ultimately – anger merely masks our vulnerabilities. While adults often possess the tools to communicate in these circumstances, most kids don’t. Here, Adelman provides a scenario where a child can go “Huh. I’ve felt that way, too…”, and a mini blueprint for how to handle anger’s fallout.
This story also deftly displays that feelings don’t define who we are – they’re as transient as any moment. But their impact isn’t, and can ripple through to others. Acknowledging and amending for your anger is sometimes the bigger lesson; after all, apologies aren’t just for those who’ve been harmed. They create room to forgive ourselves and shift our own thinking. And being honest about feelings is the quickest route to feeling better.
The ability to identify AND vocalise emotion is an invaluable skill. So, read this book to kids and talk to them about ALL their feelings. The good, the bad. The way past mad. Because the more kids learn to put their emotions into words, the better they’ll be at managing them.
Added bonus: Adelman’s newest book Way Past Worried comes out October 1, 2020. Pre-order here, and keep an eye out for it this autumn. Sounds like just the thing for 2020.
Way Past Mad by Hallee Adelman, illustrated by Sandra de la Prada. ©2020. Albert Whitman & Co.