Sal and Al return to discuss sadness in Harmony’s third book about coping with emotions.
Al has a crying hippo who sits on his shoulder. Whenever something sad happens, the hippo is there, making it difficult for Al to function. But each time a new worry is added, Al realizes that his hippo, Jo, is getting heavier and heavier. At first, Al ignores the weight and lets Jo’s doubts creep in. Jo says that things will never get any better; Jo keeps Al sad when his dog dies, his best friend moves away, and the kids on the playground don’t offer to include him. “She tells me ‘There is no hope’ / At those times, I want to mope,” Al says. But when the sadness gets to be too much to bear, Al wisely gets advice from his father. By imagining what others feel like and why they might be sad, Al gets a valuable lesson in empathy. Al also uses his sadness and worry to motivate him to try harder; he decides to ignore Jo’s gloom-and-doom predictions and focus on getting a good grade on his take-home test. Like in earlier volumes in the series, the illustrations here are cartoonish; Al’s eyes are colored red throughout to make it look like he has been crying due to Jo’s influence. In this installment, sadness is shown in a slightly positive light: “it’s okay to feel sad sometimes,” offers Sal. “You can even learn from it or help others.” Activity pages encourage children to draw their own sad moment. A word search and maze are also included in the back, along with notes to parents with tips on how to help their children deal with too much sadness. As with earlier entries in the series, the rhyme schemes here are occasionally awkward or inconsistent: “My shoulders feel her weight / Especially of late, / As my best friend, Connor moved away. / Now Jo cries with me every day.”
A roughly rhymed picture book about sadness that may help some young children develop empathy.