Book Review: When Mommy Was Mad

book review mad mommyI first came across this book at a library on a quest to find healing books that families can use for free. While there may be some exceptions, I mostly use this book with children ages 5-7. 

Author & Illustrator: Lynne Jonell and Petra Mathers
Number of Pages: 24
Amazon Summary: Something was wrong with Mommy. She burned the toast. She banged the pots and pans. And she didn’t kiss Daddy good-bye. Robbie wonders if she is mad at him, but Christopher doesn’t think so. The boys can’t think of anything they’ve done wrong, and although Robbie tries and tries, he can’t make Mommy smile again. 

Why this makes our bookshelf better:

            Parents’ and children’s lives have stressful moments. Children can be sensitive to stress, particularly the stress of their parents. Our children may see us as sad, angry, or stressed and blame themselves. These moments may or may not have anything to do with our children. However, when we are stressed, it can be hard to see clearly how our experience impacts those around us; especially the little people in our lives we love so much.

            This book creates a wonderful opportunity for parents to talk with their children about negative feelings, behaviors, and coping. Parents and children can easily see themselves in this book. The author shows parents how a “prickly” mood can be confusing to a child, and may even play a role in them becoming upset. In addition, we find that “borking” becomes a helpful new code-word for families. We appreciate that the author never shares the reason mommy is upset, so children can make this story their own.

Conversation Questions: 

Depending on the child and their unique situation, one or more of these questions may be helpful:

  1. Have you ever felt like {Robbie, Christopher, Mommy, Daddy}? When? What happened?
  2. What types of feelings did the people in the book have? How do you know they felt this way?
  3. What would you do if you were {name of character}? The same things or different ones? (you can direct them to a certain part of the story)
  4. Has something like this ever happened to you? Tell me about it. What did you like about what you did? How would you change what you did?
  5. How do you think that Robbie and Christopher’s mommy was feeling in the beginning of the story? What do you think happened/Why do you think she was feeling this way?
  6. Tell me about a time when you felt prickly. What made you feel better?
  7. How do you tell your parents you are upset?
  8. Who helps you when you are upset?
  9. It’s good to have a plan to smooth our prickles. Would Robbie’s plan smooth down your prickles? What would you change in your plan?
  10. If you could change the ending of the book, what would happen?

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