Book review: Come Home, Angus, by Patrick Downes, illustrations by Boris Kulikov

Downes Patrick. Come Home, Angus. Illustrations by Boris Kulikov. Orchard Books/ Scholastic, 2016. Unpaged. $17.99. ISBN . Ages 4-6. P6Q8

One day Angus wakes up angry.  His dachshund is slow, his canary is noisy, and his mother makes the pancakes too thin.  As Angus becomes angrier and angrier, he feels bigger and bigger—until he is as big as houses and he runs away from home.  Angus runs a block, two blocks, five blocks, then he stops feeling angry and remembers that he forgot to bring anything to eat.  As Angus becomes a bit scared and lonely, he feels himself growing smaller and smaller.  Fortunately, his mother, who has followed along, arrives just in time with a comforting sardine sandwich.

Artist Kulikov’s mixed media illustrations incorporate acrylic washes, pencil, pen, ink, oil pastel, and black-tea wash to show Angus’s emotional intensity.  As Angus becomes larger with anger, the illustrations show him becoming less real, less distinct than the figures around him.  One technique I found interesting was the use of crosshatching in the oversized pictures of Angus.  It was almost as though Angus was cracking apart as he lost control.  As Angus shrank back to child-size in the city, the streets and people around him took on the textures of unreality.

Verdict: This, along with Molly Bang’s When Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry should be available to young children as a way to learn about dealing with anger.  When Angus yells, “Mama, I don’t have to listen to you. I’m mad. I’m madder than mad. I don’t have to be nice,” his mother replies, “In this house, being angry doesn’t let you be rude.”  Setting limits for young children (and even for older children and adults) helps convey that emotions, though powerful, are not all-consuming.  We have a choice in how we handle feelings. Recommended for preschool, elementary and public libraries.

January 2017 review by Jane Cothron.


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