Sometimes I’m Bombaloo

Written by Rachel Vail
Illustrated by Yumi Heo
32 pages  •  Published 2005 (Scholastic Paperbacks)
Book cover
Recommended Age Range: Preschool through Kindergarten.
Publisher's Summary: Five-year-old Katie is a good kid — most of the time. But sometimes…say when her little brother knocks down her beautiful castle after she told him not to touch it and she knows she’ll never be able to make it look that good again…sometimes Katie gets so mad she’s just not herself. Sometimes she’s Bombaloo. Being Bombaloo is scary. But a little time out and a lot of understanding from Mom help Bombaloo calm down. And cleaning up the mess that Bombaloo made, then sharing hugs and sorries with her family, help Katie feel like Katie again.
Book cover

Dr. Annie's Takeaways

Recommended for: This story is excellent for a child who feels ashamed of their temper and would benefit from a reminder that lots of very good, very loving children say and do things they regret when their temper gets the best of them. It ends with an understanding mother who gives Katie a hug and helps her to clean up the mess her temper made. This story doesn’t teach any specific anger management strategies, but it could be a start to conversations about what it’s like for a child when they turn into their own version of Bombaloo, which in turn could motivate a child’s openness to discussing anger management strategies.
Would a child like it? Many children will enjoy this story. It’s vivid and normalizing, and it has a few funny moments.
Evidence-Based Practices: Emotional Literacy
Tone: Validating, a bit funny, sweet
Story Quality: This story really captures a child’s experience of a tantrum–how out-of-control and scary it feels, and how good it feels to have an adult understand this. The book is well-written with a few funny lines that break the tension (a pair of flung underwear are featured at the turning point of the story).
Illustrations: Brightly colored, stylized illustrations with an edgy, collaged look. They capture the emotion of the story really well.
Representation: Katie Honors is a 5-year-old girl. She has a mom, dad, and baby brother. The entire family is White with black hair.
Psychological Practices: This story is best for taking the shame out of a temper tantrum. It normalizes the feelings that many children have when their temper transforms them into “Bombaloo”–i.e., a person who yells, “hate[s] everybody and everything,” and wants to “smash stuff,” and it articulates how scary this transformation can feel to a child. Children who don’t want to talk about their temper or how to manage it may particularly benefit from this normalization. Although it’s not explicitly stated in the story, it is implied that Katie is given a time-out (or maybe she makes the choice herself), and as she is destroying things in her room, a piece of underwear is flung onto her head. This makes her laugh and breaks the tantrum. After this, she feels like herself again, and she feels sorry and frightened. Her mother hugs her and helps her to clean up the mess Bombaloo made. She then apologizes to her brother, and they rebuild the castle her brother knocked over (which is what started Katie’s transformation to Bombaloo in the first place).
Concerns: None.

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