cover image The Day No One Was Angry

The Day No One Was Angry

Toon Tellegen, trans. from the French by Bill Nagelkerke, illus. by Marc Boutavant. Gecko Press USA (Lerner, dist.), $19.95 (80p) ISBN 978-1-927271-57-5

This pictorial volume seems to promise peaceful coexistence, but its loosely connected chapters instead offer scenes of deliberate disagreement. An earthworm and beetle compete to see who is angrier. A stubborn elephant, bruised after falling from a tree, speaks in two contradictory voices, urging himself to climb and berating himself when he does ("You're a lost cause," he snarls, in an overlong and troubling internal dialogue). A contented hedgehog seeks a way to get upset, and a placid red squirrel tolerates others' petty behavior. The title story describes a tranquil summer day when "No one seemed to know what to feel." When the rhinoceros uses "angry words.... everyone began to cheer. Anger was back." Tellegen (The Squirrel's Birthday) meditates on the ways we provoke and sustain negativity, while Boutavant (Around the World with Mouk) pictures the woodland in a grainy, lithographic style. The narratives are absurd, perplexing, and sad, even though Tellegen aims for the comic by imagining what might happen if we sought anger the way we seek happiness. All told, these stories argue that anger is unavoidable and even salutary. Ages 7%E2%80%93up. (Apr.)