When a child is overcome by negative emotions, solace can be found in the imagination.
The narrator confides to readers, “Some days I feel smiling-ear-to-ear GLAD. / And some days I feel MAD SAD SMILING-EAR-TO-EAR GLAD. // … // But on those MAD SAD NOISY days… // I like to go OUT, OUT, AWAY FROM HERE… / …into the wild of my imagination.” Miao uses bright watercolors to paint a narrative subtext into the pictures. There is a new baby sibling in the home, along with parents who are under stress and sometimes argue. In one striking double-page spread, the parents’ angry, shouting dark silhouettes are in the foreground, framing a worried-looking baby and the narrator, who flees. The scenes in the child’s imaginary world are bright, busy, and fantastical, full of surreal images in sometimes-dizzying compositions. They provide enough space that when the child returns, the home is calm, and smiling parents have a warm supper waiting. The family presents white and middle-class. The story begs comparison to Molly Bang’s When Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry… (1999), but this child is escaping the heightened emotions of others rather than managing their own. Readers with functional families that experience strife may find mirrors here, but those in toxic environments are likely to have more complex reactions.
Honors the emotional lives of many—but not all—children. (Picture book. 4-8)