From School Library Journal
Starred Review. PreSchool-Grade 1—In this companion to When Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry…
(Scholastic, 1999), Harris's wisdom and sense of humor regarding early childhood behavior complement Bang's depictions of a little boy's strong emotions. Vivid colors, scanned and digitally manipulated paper cutouts and photographs, and fonts of varied sizes portray the tension between a preoccupied mother and her bored youngster. Leo rolls tomatoes in the house until they burst, drops string beans into the fish bowl, and squeezes toothpaste all over the toilet, collecting maternal "no's" as he goes. Ultimately pushed off the page by a fiery, life-size negation, the boy enters his bedroom, declares it a no-rule zone, and takes out his frustration by coloring a frowning mommy on his wall. The confrontation builds as she ignores his dictate, and Leo utters the fateful phrase. The tiny boy in the next spread is a picture of remorse and regret. The denouement offers a realistic and loving dialogue that should be required reading in parenting and anger-management classes. Mom takes a deep breath, eventually gets a grip, and together they talk about when it is and isn't acceptable to verbalize this four-letter word. Children will delight in the realism of the collage elements (cloud-covered sheets, shaggy stuffed animals, exploding broccoli spears) and relate to the intensity of the scenes in which Leo struggles with his rage and lack of power. It may dawn on parents that sometimes playing is better than getting another thing done.—Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
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The gentle analytic quality of such nonfiction Harris classics as It’s Perfectly Normal (1994) gives way to a series of emotional jolts in this raucous and cathartic story about the three little words able to drum up uncomfortable feelings in any family: I hate you. Leo is having one of those days when his mom says no to everything he wants to do, no matter how much fun it is (“No rolling tomatoes across the floor!”). After being sent to his room and yelled at for drawing a mean picture on his wall, Leo unleashes the dreaded curse in a vibrant two-page centerpiece dominated by “I hate you!” in Bang’s raging, scribbling, cut-and-paste style. The illustrations satisfyingly mirror the text after this point, using gloomy colors and isolating perspectives to show how Leo and his mom deal with the anger, shame, and fear that ensue. Both parents and children will find comfort here; we all say things we don’t mean, and Harris knows that there are another three little words that can help make it all better. Grades K-3. --Daniel Kraus