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August 27, 2012

Security Blanket: Mad at Mommy

I don't know if Komako Sakai's 2010 picture book Mad at Mommy will be considered a classic or not, but as far as we're concerned, it oughta be. Our four-year-old has recently rediscovered it and taken it very much to heart.

In a way, the title (along with one's expectations that a picture book for young kids will generally have a happy ending) reveals all you need to know about the plot: Our protagonist, a young bunny, is angry at his mommy bunny for...well, all sorts of terribly unjust things. She sleeps late sometimes and makes him wait for breakfast. She hogs the TV for boring adult programs so he can't watch cartoons. She even says he can't marry her when he grows up. In fact, he's so mad at her that he decides to leave home. Which he does. For a minute, anyway.

This is, of course, well-travelled territory for kids' picture books, with Where the Wild Things Are
the most famous example. As always in such cases, it's the author's execution that makes a take on the standard exceptional; Sakai is particularly talented at imbuing her bunny characters with emotion via their facial expressions—the slow burn of the seething kid bunny, the sympathetic-but-not-without-effort mommy bunny. The effect is to give Mad at Mommy a realistic feel—since we've all, parents and kids, been there many, many times—that brings a smile to recognition to all and, thanks to the expected turn at the end, still delivers on the warm fuzzies.

As for why Griff has suddenly taken hard to Sakai's book...well, we're just going to leave that one alone as long as we can.

[Cover image courtesy of Arthur A. Levine Books]

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