What should a child do with strong feelings?
Years ago, Molly Bang modeled a child finding peace in nature in When Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry… (1999), but some readers have complained that Sophie was running away from her problems. More recently, in The Color Monster (2018), Anna Llenas recommended sorting emotions into jars of different colors. Italian bookseller Alvisi’s protagonist Berta follows that latter path. She tidies up regularly, sorts her toys by color, and uses red, yellow, green, and blue boxes to contain her strong feelings. Grown-ups admire her good behavior. But that technique is not enough when someone at school calls her a “red gloop monstreepy” and adults in her life are too distracted to offer sympathy. She tries to calm down with a puzzle, but a missing piece is the last straw. In a frenzy, she mixes all her puzzles together into one—creating a terrible and wonderful monstreepy of her own. In what may be something of a leap for a young audience, she changes her ways, loosens up, and learns to talk about her feelings instead of putting them in boxes. When she’s upset, she can draw, trace, cut, and glue some “magnificent monsters.” Making art helps. Graux depicts Berta and her parents as White, but there are some background characters of color; her color choices support Berta’s changing moods. Ross’ translation is smooth, but it’s unclear whether that is from the original Italian or the Madrid-based publisher’s co-publishing Spanish edition, Las cajas de Berta.
Another offering for the emotional intelligence shelf.(Picture book. 4-7)