by Robie H. Harris • Illustrated by Molly Bang
September 2008 • Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers •
A family book about what it feels like to say--and hear--those other three words.
Story: In a reassuring manner, Robie H. Harris and Molly Bang portray what happens when a little boy feels SO frustrated and SO mad at a parent who has said NO all day long. Together, Harris and Bang delicately navigate not only the momentary angry feelings and outbursts of young children, but also the most profound bonds between a parent and a child.
Story behind the story: This book has been in the works ever since Robie and the previous publisher of Little, Brown, David Ford, ran into each other at the 2002 American Library Association convention. Both commented on the fact that there were so many “I LOVE YOU!” picture books on display, many overly sentimental and vapid. They surmised that this was most likely an empathic response to 9/11 — a way to reassure our young children. Together, they wondered if anyone had ever written a picture book about three equally powerful words — “I HATE YOU!” David’s response was, “I'd like to publish that book and you could write it!” Robie has spent much of her career writing about young children’s powerful emotions. So it is no surprise that after many years, she was able to successfully craft the compelling and reassuring story of Leo and his Mommy.
Here’s a little taste of the three starred reviews (!!) received so far:
“Must have reading for many a parent and child.” – Kirkus Reviews
“Harris’s wisdom and sense of humor regarding early childhood behavior complement Bang’s depictions of a little boy’s strong emotions…. Children will delight in the realism of the collage elements (cloud-covered sheets, shaggy stuffed animals, exploding broccoli spears) and relate to the intensity of the scenes in which Leo struggles with his rage and lack of power. It may dawn on parents that sometimes playing is better than getting another thing done.” -- Wendy Lukehart, School Library Journal
“Harris and Bang are so simpatico that it’s almost surprising that no one thought of bringing them together sooner…. booksellers might actually want to consider filing copies of this book in the parenting section.” – Publishers Weekly
(For the complete reviews, see: the Kirkus starred review; the School Library Journal starred review; and the Publishers Weekly starred, boxed review.)
You might also be interested in reading excerpts from a presentation Robie gave at the Reach Out and Read of Greater New York Conference entitled "Young Children's Deepest Thoughts and Strongest Feelings" as she talks about picture books, young children's powerful feelings, reassurance -- and how Molly Bang became the artist for this book.
FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent and Picnic Basket reviews are in the works; please check back and click on the "comments" link below to read what your colleagues have to say about it!