Dutch writer Tellegen explores the psychology of anger in 12 vignettes featuring a society of animals.
In short, dialogue-rich tales, animals grapple with anger’s many manifestations, struggling to understand its presence and absence. The hyrax rants at the sun for setting nightly, his anger so deep that it lasts all through sun-drenched days. A lobster with a suitcase full of the “right kind of anger” visits a mouse, revealing everything from a mild red anger to a “white fury.” The mouse spies a light blue melancholy and drapes it, scarflike, over his shoulders, sighing over a lovely summer day. In a particularly poignant tale, an ant schools a toad in the many ways to banish anger. Eventually deciding to “throw it away,” they “[share] some sweet dried nettles and [talk] about happiness, which, according to the ant, you never have to do anything about.” Is anger a necessary emotion? A well-versed beetle teaches a cricket how to locate his anger, and the last, titular story portrays the animals’ odd disequilibrium on a day devoid of ire. On thick, creamy pages, Boutavant’s charming pictures evoke the mid-20th-century illustrations of Feodor Rojankovsky and Roger Duvoisin and invite close scrutiny. (One quibble: Where gender’s specified, it’s male.)
Pleasantly lacking moral-mongering, this fresh collection will appeal to parents and children who enjoy sharing stories as springboards to discussion and speculation. (table of contents—in the backmatter) (Short stories. 6-9)