Review By HUYEN MACMICHAEL
Anh is a young Vietnamese boy happily building his tower of blocks when he is asked to stop to eat the dinner his grandfather cooked. After repeated requests, Anh reluctantly stops building, but is suddenly ambushed by tears followed by anger. He lashes out at Grandfather who attempts to comfort him. Grandfather tells him to, “Please go to your room and sit with your anger. I’ll come in when you’re calm and able to talk.” The remainder of the story answers Anh’s and our question, “How do I sit with my anger?”
Anger is a challenging emotion for adults as well as children. Not only is it difficult to deal with our own anger but also how to calmly address our children’s anger. Both Grandfather and Anh model a strategy for handling anger. Frequently viewed as a “bad” feeling, anger takes on a different role in this story. Anger personified becomes an emotion to befriend and recognize as a normal part of our lives. Acknowledging and owning it, using its energy, accepting it, and sitting with it is a useful strategy taught in this story. Following the Zen philosophy of sitting/meditating, anger is addressed with mindful awareness.
I like this story on so many different levels. It teaches the child that it is ok to feel angry and how to address and diminish that anger. It teaches a parent/care-taker how to address a child’s anger in a thoughtful and compassionate manner. The characters created by Gail Silver model kindness, respectfulness, and compassion. The beautiful collage-style illustrations by Christiane Krӧmer are expressive, multicultural, and depict an appropriately scary and funny anger (not too scary for a preschooler yet intriguing enough that my daughter wanted to meet her anger and play with it). The creativity and imagination is attractive and my daughter, my husband, and I really enjoyed this story and will practice following Anh’s and Grandfather’s examples.