Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

What Are You Glad About? What Are You Mad About?

What Are You Glad About? What Are You Mad About?

Judith Viorst
Illustrator:  Lee White 
For ages 7 to 9
Simon and Schuster, 2016   ISBN: 978-1481423557

Sometimes we know exactly how we are feeling. We are happy because our day is going well, or we are grumpy because nothing seems to be going right. Then there are those times when we cannot quite figure out what is going on inside. We think we are happy, but then feelings of sadness trickle in from somewhere. Or, we think we should be upset, but somehow the upset feelings don’t behave the way they are supposed to.

No matter how you are feeling, you will find that this book contains poems that speak to you, that resonate with you because they seem to understand what is happening in your life at this particular moment. For example, if you are feeling cut off from the world and alone, the poem All Alone Inside My Very Own Skin will comfort you because you will see that you are not the only who is feeling all alone inside; you are not the only one who wishes “I could invite somebody in.”

More often than not, what we feel on the inside is influenced by what is happening on the outside. Events at school, family ups and downs, and happenings with friends and enemies all play a part in our stories, and there are poems in this collection that bring such stories to life.

My Papa is a poem that captures the love that one little child has for his grandfather, a man who makes wonderful grilled cheese sandwiches. This grandfather rides bikes, reminds his grandson of “My thank-yous and my pleases,” and when the little boy becomes the president he will “banish prunes and peases” and his grandfather will be named the “head of the / Department of Grilled Cheeses.”

From an easy-going grandfather we go to Bossy Mom, a parent who controls her child’s every move and action in life. You don’t have to be a genius to see that the child is more than a little fed up with being told what to do, and how to do it, every minute of the day. “She is ruining my life!” and “she’s going to drive me completely insane,” the child says, in desperate tones.

There are even poems in this collection about the seasons, which is only right and proper. After all, for children, the seasons are often full of things that summon up emotions. There are wonderful things like falling leaves in autumn that make such a “commotion” in their leave-taking so that we “won’t forget them when they go.” Then there are not so great things like those cold days in winter when we are so cold and shivery, so frozen to the bone, that we wish we could hibernate and tell people “don’t bother to call me till spring.”

This is a delicious collection of poems that children will come back to again and again, because on the pages they will find verses that will make them smile, and nod, and shake their heads in commiseration. They will find situations and feelings that will be familiar, and that will make sense. They will feel that here is a poet who completely ‘gets’ where they are coming from.