Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Picture Book Review: When I See Red by Britta Teckentrup (2021)

Quick Booktalk

In first person a little girl relates both the intense redness of her anger and its eventual blowing over. 

About the Illustrations

The pictures are abstract to represent the emotion of anger. The tumultuous swirls and splatters are the perfect accompaniment to the character's descriptions of her rage. The girl's facial expressions further drive home the fire of her anger and its physical impact on her. The pictures will certainly speak to any child who has ever felt angry. 

Story Time Possibilities

This would work for a feelings theme, depending on the audience. For some kids, potentially the emotions of the book would be too intense, but for others, they would be satisfying to experience on the page in preparation for experiencing them in reality. The illustrations would work great for a story time or classroom audience.

Readers Advisory

I'm not 100% on board with the way this book portrays anger as a source of strength and safety. Sometimes that is the case, but my kids' anger is often unproductive and their screaming and carrying on needs to be reined in, not celebrated. This book seems to suggest that all anger is righteous anger, and I don't think that's exactly correct. 

I was reminded of Molly Bang's When Sophie Gets Angry - Really Really Angry, which I think places less of a value judgment on anger and simply focuses on the experience of feeling angry and then having the anger subside. I don't necessarily think one book is objectively better than the other. but they serve different needs and both can be valuable depending on the child and the circumstances. 


I received a finished review copy of When I See Red from Prestel in exchange for an honest review. 

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