“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Day Leo Said "I Hate You!" • Picture Book

The Day Leo Said “I Hate You!”
Robie H. Harris • Illustrated by Molly Bang
September 2008 •
Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers
Picture Book
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!


Anonymous said...

Fans of David Shannon's "No, David!" series will enjoy laughing at Leo's Little boy antics and the repeated "no" pattern in the beginning of the book ("NO dancing on the table! NO yelling Mommy Salami while I'm on the phone!"). Leo and his mommy are the only characters in this vibrantly colored book that uses collages of paper cutouts and photographs. The effectiveness of the book, though, comes through its treatment of the theme - a moment of anger forces Leo to burst out, "I HATE NO! And actually, really, right now - I HATE YOU!" Leo and his mommy talk out the differences between saying "I hate broccoli" or "I hate having a runny nose" and "I hate you." Lovingly ended, a wonderful book to address that "teachable moment" that inevitably comes in many families' lives. Recommended.

- Susan E
K-4 Librarian
Hillside School
Mt Laurel, NJ

RistauReadslibrary2 said...

I loved The Day Leo Said I Hate You by Robie Harris. This book is illustrated by Molly Bang, who also illustrated When Sophie Gets Angry, Really, Really Angry, and since I have read both, I can see similarities in the illustrations- the bold colors, especially. The collage artwork is eyecatching as is the text written in different colors.
Tina Ristau
Teacher Librarian

What I enjoyed most about this book is that it dealt with something most children can relate to. Leo is upset by all the things his mom tells him not to do and in an act of rebellion and anger yells that he hates his mother. He is instantly sorry for these words, and the two make amends. However, most children act and speak impulsively at times and may feel horrible about it afterward. Harris does a great job of creating a story about something every child can relate to.

Sonia said...

"The Day Leo said I Hate You" by Robie Harris is an eye-catching delight and a worthwhile story as well. The book features colorful pages full of photos, coloring and collage elements that are sure to entice young readers. The story of Leo getting angry with his mother saying "No" so many times is, I think, reminiscent of every mother's trials and tribulations raising youngsters. I have two sons of my own and wish this book was published ten years ago! I strongly recommend that parents read it with their children. I rate this a 4.

- Sonia Acone
Assistant Librarian

Debbie V. said...

This vibrant picture book will resonate with all parents, especially parents of tweens and teens whose every other sentence is about hating their parents. This should be a must-read for all parents and would-be parents on how to deal with the “I hate you” statement.

The only drawback to the book--some unimaginative children will discover interesting ways to entertain themselves. In raising three children, I have only dealt with the drawing on the wall problem—never toothpaste on the toilet or kicking tomatoes around the house!

I give the book 5 pieces of broccoli because it deals with a realistic problem and an appropriate way to handle it. What a wonderful way for children and parents to share what they like and what they hate as well as what is appropriate and inappropriate.

Heather said...

Harris's text brilliantly presents a delicate topic that is sure to touch every parent & child relationship. The text is complimented by Bang's vibrant illustrations; I especially love Leo’s steaming anger.

I read this to a 4-year-old who had just the day before said words quite similar to Leo’s and she asked for repeat readings.

I am going to have to give this title a picnic basket rating of 4 (recommend without reservation)!

Children's Librarian

Lydia K said...

The topic that is addressed in this book is one that every parent must face at one point in their child's life. Where this book really hits home is where Leo yells at his mother "I HATE YOU!" and how she responds. Not with anger or frustration but she uses that moment to teach her young son about the importance of not saying those words to people. The loving bond between mother and son is further enhanced with the moment they spend together on Leo's bed. I whole heartedly give this book a rating of a 4 - highly recommend.

eiela said...

I've been reading this book to my kindergarten through second grade library classes this week, and it has been a definite hit. An applause-after-the-story, read-it-again-now hit. It rates a 5 just on the students' reactions. They are held rapt by Bang's imaginative illustrations, which are a combination of drawing and Photoshopped objects, like the broccoli exploding around Mommy in one spread. They loved the crazy things Leo does and gets fussed at for, like squirting toothpaste down the toilet. The particularly observant ones have noticed that Leo's stuffed dog and dinosaur react to his emotions by looking worried when he's worried, etc. This book provoked a lot of conversation from the kids; I stopped just before Mommy's reaction to Leo telling her “I Hate You!” and asked them what they thought.. Some of them were sure he was in BIG TROUBLE, and others admitted to doing something similar themselves. We talked a little about how angry words can hurt feelings, and especially about how it's hard to take them back. The story ends with forgiveness and making amends, which relieved the students. Some of my teachers got to see it during Family Reading Night, and my behavior-assistance teacher decided to order her own copy, because it would be a great lead-in to talk about the hurtful power of words and the process of making amends with her students.

Rating: 5

Elementary Librarian

Lori said...

The Day Leo Said "I Hate You!"
Robie Harris

Rating: 4

This book teaches a great lesson. Many children/parents have gone through this situation, and Leo's mother deals with it very effectively. Children can easily relate to the impulsive, "I hate you" as well as the regret.

The illustrations are very well done! They convey the feelings of the characters incredible well.

Lori Stolaski
St. Thomas Aquinas Academy
Milwaukee, WI

Bonnie Langan, Children's Librarian said...

I would rate this book a 4 as I was uncertain how to stress the use of this book. As a public librarian I would not be able to use it in a story time unless I was doing feeling and then I would still be uncertain how to present it. I would however strongly recommend it to a school teacher, parent or counselor. This book allows the presentation of how the words, I hate you, can affect someone’s life. This book presents a alternative to these hurting words and by the end of the book everyone feels better.
I am a Children’s Librarian at a Public Library System in Harris County. I have been doing children’s work for over 5 years. I trained as an elementary school teacher but only served as a substitute. This book covers an area that we are all worried how to cover but it does an excellent job.
-- Bonnie Langan, Children's Librarian, Baldwin Boettcher Branch Library, Humble, TX

Theresa G said...

Loved the book and gave it the "kid test" by sharing it with my nieces and nephew (ages 4-7). Knock on wood we haven't had the dreaded "I hate you" incident but reading the book read to a nice discussion on how words can really hurt. We brainstormed other things people might say when they are angry or frustrated and what we might do instead.
In thinking about how to use this in the classroom (besides at the obvious teachable moment) I could really see this being a nice mentor text for students to take an every day incident and make it into a story - especially if it were to help with younger students.
A picnic basket 4 from me!

Jennifer Samec said...

I picked up my mail and headed to the copy room the day this book arrived. While I made copies, a former Kindergarten teacher came in, picked up and readh the book, and gave it her immediate endorsement. I think her comment was something like, "I hate it when kids tell me that hate is a swear word. We have this discussion every year!" I can't think of a better endorsement.

Besides the great presentation of a topic that all teachers and parents seem to have to tackle at some time, the illustrations in the book are great! I love the mixture of textures and the unique perspectives used.

I would rate this book a 4 - a great staple for any collection.

-Jennifer Samec, Media Specialist
Birchview Elementary School, Plymouth, MN

mariehune said...

Those irreversible words, "I Hate You," so tempting and so dangerous. Robie Harris' book, "The Day Leo Said, 'I Hate You,' portrays these sentiments perfectly and lovingly. We watch through the pages as Leo grow increasingly frustrated with everything and everyone, especially his mother. And, we sympathize when he shouts out the angry phrase at her. This seems like the perfect prescription, preventive or therapeutic, for a young child whose frustration and anger have gone beyond their own bounds. To know that you are still loved when you become angry and to know that you can forgive yourself and be forgiven are invaluable lessons. Harris' book offers the right means along with Molly Bang's bright and emotive illustrations which portray the feelings along with the text. Recommended.

Nomad Librarian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Reader’s are treated to a fanciful mix of the real life lessons and brightly fantastic illustrations in this book, which chronicles a day when “Leo’s mommy couldn’t stop saying no”. After both Leo and his mother are pushed to the limit by his misbehavior (smashing tomatoes, dancing on the table, drawing on the wall), Leo screams “I hate you”. The illustrations, which are bold and vivid, done in bright, eye catching colors. The mixture of realistic photo like elements and fanciful elements such as fire coming from Leo’s mouth, build to the two page spread where Leo finally says the dreaded words. What follows is not only a lesson in how to deal with hurting others feelings, but also why it is bad to say “I hate you” to another person. The big, interesting, full page illustrations make this ideal for group read alouds, and the subjects- misbehaving, getting in trouble, being angry- are ones that all young children can relate to. The text handles the conflict between Leo and his mother without making either of them the villain. The horrified look on Leo’s face (and the faces of his toys) after he says “I hate you” go perfectly with the text: “Leo wanted to stuff “I hate you” right back in his mouth.” This book does a fantastic job of combining a lesson with enough whimsy and fun to really appeal to a young audience. An excellent addition to any collection.

Bottom Line: 4 Recommended without reservation

Amanda Ziegler
Youth Librarian
Wichita Falls Public Library
Wichita Falls, TX

Anonymous said...

Rating: 4

"The Day Leo Said I Hate You" deals with the emotions every family lives through. It would be an excellent jumping off point for discussions about obedience, families, etc.
The pictures were wonderful, and the huge words running across the pages would make it a delight to read aloud.

Peacham Library said...

Robie Harris's book "The Day Leo Said I Hate You!" is a wonderful book to share with children (and adults). Leo has a horrible day (in his mind) where he is told repeatedly "No." Finally he blows and says the dreaded words "I hate you." His mother handles the situation very well, giving the reader(s) a great jumping off point to discuss how words hurt. Molly Bang's illustrations mirror the words (large, small, shouted, printed, black, colored and illustrated) on the page beautifully. The combined effect of words and pictures make this a book you'll want to share and discuss.
I highly recommend this book and give it a 4.5!

Becky, Peacham Library Co-Director

Brannin said...

I was a little concerned before I read the book; but I think this is a great teaching story. I think Robie Harris does a good job of identifying the feeling and validating the feel of hate and balances that with teaching a life lesson.

I enjoyed different sized fonts and the use of different colors to illustrate how Leo and his mom were feeling. I liked how the title of the book was scribbled upon on the title page. I didn't particularly care for Molly Bang's stylist approach when she illustrated the story; but that goes to my own taste vs. her artistic ability.

I give this book a 4.

Brannin Dorsey
Kindergarten Teacher
Parkmont Elementary
Fremont, CA