Way Past Mad

Written by Hallee Adelman
Illustrated by Sandra de la Prada
32 pages  •  Published 2020 (Albert Whitman & Company)
Book cover
Recommended Age Range: Preschool through 2nd grade.
Publisher's Summary: Keya is way past mad. Her little brother Nate messed up everything—even breakfast. She heads to school kicking rocks and sticks. When her best friend Hooper tries to help, Keya shouts, “I don’t even like you.” It’s not true, but Hooper storms off, kicking rocks and sticks too. Keya gave him her mad! Now it’s up to Keya to find a different way past mad and to make things right.
Book cover

Dr. Annie's Takeaways

Recommended for: This story is a good read for a child who is ambivalent about learning to manage their anger. For some children, temper can feel powerful (if also a bit scary), and they’re reluctant to give this up. This story walks a child through the consequences of their temper being in control, and it models an effective apology.
Would a child like it? This story has an authenticity and heart that children who relate to Kya will appreciate. It’s best for children with a temper that gets the best of them sometimes.
Evidence-Based Practices: Emotional Literacy
Tone: Emotional, with a sweet resolution
Story Quality: It’s a well-written story with believable characters and a satisfying, rich narrative arc. It includes some well-placed poetic language (e.g., “…the kind of mad that starts and swells and spreads like a rash”).
Illustrations: Pretty, crisp illustrations with nice texture (Kya’s hair is drawn with especially great curls).
Representation: Kya is a White girl with black curly hair. She has a little brother and a mother. Her friend Hooper is a Black boy.
Psychological Practices: This book is very effective at showing how temper can make a child feel powerful until it gets in the way of their values and desires (in this case, Kya says something mean to her friend and then regrets it). Kya’s mad is written about as if it were its own character–her mad makes her say things that she doesn’t mean, and when she says something hurtful to her friend, she gives him her mad. It’s a useful way to externalize temper and separate the child and their values from this out-of-control feeling. The story doesn’t teach any specific emotion regulation skills, but it starts a conversation about how temper can end up hurting a child, rather than helping them to get what they want. It also models an effective apology and reconciliation between the two friends.
Concerns: None.

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