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WAY PAST MAD by Hallee Adelman


by Hallee Adelman ; illustrated by Sandra de la Prada

Pub Date: March 1st, 2020
ISBN: 978-0-8075-8685-3
Publisher: Whitman

Anger at a sibling gets taken out on a friend.

Protagonist Keya fumes when younger brother Nate gives Keya’s cereal to the dog and cuts holes in Keya’s favorite hat. Keya stomps outside. Hooper, Keya’s friend, offers a cheerful greeting, but Keya darts away. A fantasy race ensues, briefly cathartic, but Keya’s temper explodes after a knee-scraping tumble. Keya bursts out, “I don’t like you, Hooper.” It’s not true, of course, and they make up after a sweetly responsible apology. Aside from twice waxing poetic (“The kind of mad that starts / and swells / and spreads like a rash”), Adelman’s prose is dull and declarative (“Then we joked and laughed. I was so happy”). Keya and her family present white and Hooper, black. Keya’s glorious, lively black curls are de la Prada’s best visual. Many illustrations are too uniformly saturated, with the composition offering no clear place to focus. A “gold medal like sunshine” that Keya wins in the imagined race is barely visible. In a critical misstep for a book for fostering emotional literacy, narrator Keya says Hooper looks “way past mad”—echoing an earlier description of Keya—while the illustrations clearly show him as hurt, not angry. Choose Tameka Fryer Brown and Shane Evans’ My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood (2013) or Judith Viorst and Ray Cruz’s classic Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (1972) instead.

In a crowded subgenre, this offering is unnecessary.

(Picture book. 4-8)