Anh’s Anger by Gail Silver (author) and Christane Krömer (illustrator)
Anh’s Anger is a book that tackles the subject of children’s anger set within an engaging story. The book skillfully teaches children how to deal with their anger by simply embracing it.
When Anh gets angry that he can’t finish building his clocks before dinner and has a fit, his grandfather tells him, “Please go to your room and sit with your anger.” At first, Anh has no idea what his grandfather means but then suddenly a red-faced, green-tongued monster appears and tells him, “I’m your anger…you brought me here.”
I expected my children to get scared at this part—these are kids who, brace yourself, protest when I want to read my childhood favorite Where the Wild Things Are because it’s “too scary”—yet they were somehow not afraid of this monster. Perhaps it’s the calming colors of the gorgeous illustrations, created in a mostly earth-toned palette with small touches of other primary colors. Anh begins to play with his anger and have fun while also breathing deeply. As he calms down, his anger becomes smaller and more smiley and eventually goes away.
I have a soft spot for books that feature a grandparent-grandchild relationship as it reminds me of the deep bond I shared with my grandmother. I love that it is also the grandfather who teaches Anh about dealing with anger, subtly underscoring the wisdom of the older generations. This wisdom is something modern, Western society tends to disregard, as so often our society portrays the elderly as having nothing to offer.
An additional element I liked about this book is that I always find it refreshing when main characters who are not white don’t have to be doing a culturally related thing. In this book, the main character is an Asian boy and the focus is not on something related to culture, history or race; we see certain cultural details as well, such as chopsticks on the dinner table, for example. But the main point of the book is about dealing with anger. What kid can’t relate to building blocks before dinner and getting angry they can’t finish?
If you can’t already tell, I loved this book and it was my kid’s top request two nights in a row now. It provided an easy springboard to talking about messy emotions like anger with my kids, even if the metaphor of anger was lost a little on my five-year-old.
“Do I have anger like that?”
“Everyone gets angry,” I answered. “I get angry, you get angry, your sister gets angry.”
“But does my anger look like that?” She insisted, referring to the angry monster in the picture.
“Anger looks different to everyone. That’s how anger looks to Anh but how it looks to you may be different. What do you imagine your anger looks like when you feel angry? Does it have a color or a shape?”
“Let’s read it again!”
And so we did.
Disclosure: I liked the concept of this book and therefore solicited a free copy to review. The decision to review was all mine and I was not compensated in any way for the review.