Last week, I began a discussion on Molly Bang’s When Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry…. In that opening conversation I evaluate:
- The nature of Sophie’s anger as a ‘justified’ anger… more than a mere tantrum
- Some benefits of celebrating Sophie’s character and her deeply-felt, intense emotion
- The role nature plays in helping Sophie deal with her anger, highlighting a eucatastrophic moment (the very world she wishes to “smash to smithereens” is the one that comforts her, in the end)
Now I turn to last week’s remaining question: What about the situation back at home? Picking up where I left off in the story:
Sophie feels better now. She climbs back down / and heads for home. / The house is warm and smells good. Everyone is glad she’s home. / Everything’s back together again. / And Sophie isn’t angry anymore.
While the text discloses a resolution to the conflict, the illustrations add depth and profundity. Throughout the story, the thick outlines of colour around characters and objects change. In the beginning scenes with Sophie and her sister, when there is discord, no two objects have the same coloured outline (Sophie is, appropriately, red; the sister, green; Gorilla, yellow; the cat, purple; and the truck is light blue).
As Sophie journeys to the old birch tree, the colours also transition (from red to orange for Sophie and from red to purple to blue in the nature scenes) as her anger is soothed.
It is significant, then, that when Sophie comes home everything is outlined with the same colour (Sophie, her sister, her mom, her father, the cat and even the furniture). It is clear through this aspect of illustration, that Sophie and her family are (re-)unified by the end of the story.
There is more, however, that the illustration offers to the story that is not disclosed in the text. For instance, as Sophie returns, her sister is in process of putting together a puzzle. On the next page the family works together on the puzzle, both Sophie and her sister hold the final two pieces, the text reads: “everything is back together again.” The family unit is unified, but particularly the relationship between Sophie and her sister is restored. And Gorilla, the object of their disunity, now sits positioned equally between them.
And if one had any doubt about the role of the old birch tree in comforting Sophie and quieting her anger, on the last page she is painting her family at home, the old birch tree prominently branching out over them, and the words: “and Sophie isn’t angry anymore.”
In this picture book, Molly Bang demonstrates an ability to craft an emotive story with great economy. In less than 200 words, she delivers a full narrative arc that is rich in imagery, vivid in colour and detail, thematically practical as well as profound, and yet accessible to young readers/listeners. In the telling of this story, Bang has not fallen to the same demise as many illustrators-turned-writers who rely on illustration to carry the extra weight of weak text. On the contrary, Molly Bang’s words work hard—her sentences are simple, but far from simplistic—and her words work well with the illustration. As I hope to have demonstrated, there are many enriching moments for the reader/listener who experiences what happens “when Sophie gets angry—really, really angry.”
Do you have a favourite place to go to that soothes your soul– that helps calm your emotions? (Your comments don’t have to be specific to anger)