cover image THAT MAKES ME MAD!


Steven Kroll, Chronicle Books, , illus. by Christine Davenier. . North-South/SeaStar, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-58717-183-3

Nina's ire is stirred by her own limitations, by adults' underestimation, by rules and by toys that insist on getting lost. Kroll (The Biggest Pumpkin Ever), who first published this text in 1976, catalogs these and other peeves with sympathy and honesty, while Davenier (The First Thing My Mama Told Me, reviewed April 22) contributes shimmering, balletically brushstroked spot watercolors that trace the heroine's tempest-tossed internal state. "When you get mad at me and it's not my fault, that makes me mad," Nina says, the titular refrain spelled out in bold type. The words lead into a bathtub drama, in which Nina is left in charge of Tony, her toddler brother and co-bather. As Tony gradually floods the floor (Davenier sends ribbons of translucent blue color flying from the tub and Tony's mouth) Nina's countenance grows stormier, then changes to indignant when her mother holds her responsible. This pattern repeats with scenarios familiar to children and parents everywhere, each rendered respectfully by the artist, who still manages to uncover the humor in each situation. Can Nina's wrath ever be defused? The last spread supplies the answer: "But it makes me feel better when you let me tell you how angry I am!" A warm embrace with her mother on the final page proves that when her frustrations are acknowledged, even Nina can't stay angry for long. Ages 4-8. (Aug.)