Children’s book has deep message for adults too
No One is Angry Today by To on T elle gen and Marc Bout avant (Gecko, $34.99) Reviewed by Louise Ward, Wardini Books This book, ostensibly for children, begins with a fire belly toad visiting the house of the hedgehog and pulling all his quills out. Toad then yells, how do you feel? The hedgehog replies that he is angry but the Toad is not convinced that this is the truth. Bizarre? Yes, but what a beginning! This is a series of stories in which certain animal characters display extremities of emotion— anger, sadness, malcontent. Friends and neighbours appear sanguine, forgiving, thoughtful. The reader is subtly invited to have a good think about what is going on. In the first story, the toad’s neighbours are all assaulted during the course of aday— really horrible things happen to the mas the toad tries to get them to understand his anger. They talk, reflect and wonder what the hell is behind this anger. They cometo the conclusion that even though they are very angry indeed at his treatment of them, maybe their anger is nothing compared to his. They muse on perspective— maybe their anger would almost be happiness to the toad. This is deep stuff, and children are capable of undergoing this type of thinking, given the chance. It would be interesting to read the story and see what their thoughts are. Throughout the book there are stories about pointless arguments, loneliness, contrary and belligerent behaviour, putting upwith friends who annoy you because they’re your friends, doing stuff you don’t really want to because you know it will make someone happy. These are things that are human, and make people and relationships complicated. Confronting such thoughts and behaviours as children, figuring them out and acknowledging them, has to be a good thing. It’s also reassuring to know that no one is perfect, we’re all irritating to someone, butwe can still be loved, and function as amemberof society. No One is Angry Today is unusual in that its messages are not immediately handed to the reader. Conversations should ensue to dig out what’s happening. It’s a fascinating book, great for young thinkers of about 3 or 4 years and up.