Saturday, February 21, 2015

Sam's Pet Temper by Sangeeta Bhadra -- OPTIONAL

Bhadra, Sangeeta Sam's Pet Temper, illustrated by Marion Arbona. PICTURE BOOK. Kids Can Press, 2014. $16.95. Content: G.

When Sam gets tired of waiting for his turn to play on the playground equipment, he discovers he has a malicious pet -- a temper, to be precise. Wherever he goes from that moment on, the temper follows, causing mischief. And, of course, it's Sam who gets in trouble, because no one can see his temper but him. No one can control it, either -- not even Sam. Or can he?

I've deliberated about this book for a long time, because I wanted to adore it. I love how Sam finally learns how to control his emotions, and I think it's a great lesson for kids who are having difficulties themselves. Much of the artwork feels very fresh and creative as well, although the giant, leering, blood-red mouths in a few of the scenes are just this side of horrifying. In the end, however, I simply couldn't give it more than OPTIONAL. The point of the story feels buried under pages of Sam blaming his temper for acting out instead of him taking charge of his own emotions, and the moral is likely to be overlooked by many readers. Perhaps shorter and/or clearer text may have helped. Also, why is Sam only beginning to have the temper now? Has he never been so upset before? Perhaps this one would be a good option for students who need a different approach to anger management, especially if paired with some adult guidance.

EL (K-3) -- OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Caryn

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