No One is Angry Today
Toon Tellegen and Marc Boutavant
Herein (translated from the original Dutch by David Colmer) are ten philosophical short stories – kind of fables but without the morals – illustrated by Marc Boutavant, that explore anger using a cast of animal characters whose emotions are more than a little similar to those of humans, with anger taking various forms – fury, sadness, ridiculousness for instance.
There’s a firebelly toad whose anger is expressed through inflicting pain on other creatures by attacking them viciously, arousing the recipients’ extreme fury – so he hopes.
Then there’s a squirrel, sad that his ant friend has gone away almost definitely not to return; squirrel can’t be angry but waits patiently for his friend— strangely however his anger is displaced, showing itself by means of the walls of his home.
With his birthday imminent, Cricket sends Bear a strange invitation letter listing all the annoying things Bear does on such occasions, but concluding that he’d like it very much if the ursine creature came along. perhaps Bear will feel some anger too …
When Squirrel agrees to dance with Elephant one summer’s evening the former is already contemplating the possibility of having his toes trodden on, but agrees not to get angry if it happens, and almost inevitably, it does and Squirrel feels the pain, but keeps his word. After a series of toe treadings and even getting bashed against a tree, Squirrel’s anger remains quiet while Elephant is ecstatic.
Each of the brief tales is a small piece of drama however the anger is expressed, and interestingly it tends to be the male animals whose anger is aggressive while females show theirs in other ways.
Marc Boutavant’s illustrations are superb in the way he captures each animal’s expressions – facial and body language – as well as the detail of the woodland settings of the tales.
I’d suggest using these as starting points for community of inquiry discussions with primary children.