Are You Mad at Me?

Penguin/Rocky Pond. Sept. 2023. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593615669.
PreS-Gr 2–Opal is a young ostrich with anxiety. When she gets anxious her neck gets all wobbly, and her family refers to her condition as “The Noodles.” They are supportive and try to help her with varying coping techniques, but Opal suffers nonetheless. On the day of the “Feather Family’s annual soiree,” Opal is tasked with the responsibility of traveling alone to the bakery and bringing back a special tart. Along the way, she encounters many other animals. Each time Opal meets a friend she faces a new wave of anxiety as she wonders if the animals are mad at her. When she enters a cave along the path, for example, she turns on her headlamp and this makes her bat friend Remington call out. Opal is sure that Remington is mad at her. In reality, Remington lets Opal know that he is nocturnal and the light is merely disrupting his rest. The journey comes to a satisfying conclusion; Opal accomplishes her task and learns that not every reaction from others is personal. Opal grows in confidence and is sure that the next time “The Noodles” come, she will be okay. Illustrations are digitally created and capture Opal’s emotions effectively.
VERDICT Illustrating one aspect of anxiety, this title will be helpful to children in recognizing their own anxiety and also how other children might be feeling.

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