Monday, October 24, 2016

BIG DEAL Anger

Picture Book: Come Home Angus
Author: Patrick Downs
Illustrator: Boris Kulikov
Summary: Kulikov's illustrations are crucial to the power of this story, even on the first page. 
Angus is a young child who wakes up with the kind of anger that is big, huge even. No reason is given for his anger. 
He responds badly to his “slow” dog, his “loud” canary & cat, and his mom who expects and apology.  
Great line here, “In this house, being angry doesn’t let you be rude.” 
After a verbal tug of war, Angus packs a full bag and heads out the door. His mother says, “I’ll miss you.” Angus replies, “No, you won’t.” 
As he walks away, his size diminishes while buildings grow so that eventually he is little, lost, and afraid. 
Angus sits on a bench and realizes he’s forgotten his lunch. 
Just as strangers surround him, his mom brings his lunch (and pets) and asks if he’s ready to come home. 
Is he ever!
Hanna’s Comments: This book reminds me of Sendak’s classic Where the Wild Things Are and 2 PBT books by Molly Bang: When Sophie Gets Angry, Really, Really Angry and her sequel When Sophie’s Feelings Are Really, Really Hurt. See a post about those last 2 [here]. What does this book have to offer ministry more than Bang’s books? First, you have a beautiful maternal image of God, God as provider & comforter and God as one who is expecting more from us than we offer. 
Secondly, you have a perfect visual representation of our human tendency to think we are big deals and shove God away. Daniel Erlander in his brilliant book for adults Manna and Mercy, calls sin “trying to become a BIG DEAL.” See more about this book and the children’s curriculum I’ve written based on it in Other Resources by Hanna, a tab above. It is when Angus realizes he is not such a big deal, that he becomes lost, afraid, and wanting his mom. 
Thirdly, Angus thinks all his “stuff” will comfort him, but it doesn’t. 
Instead, he needs his important relationships with his mom and his pets, all of whom love him unconditionally.
Original Publisher & Date: Orchard Books, 2016
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 3 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: In Your presence there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11); for me it is good to be near God, my refuge (Psalm 73:28); where shall I flee from Your presence (Psalm 139: 7); neither death nor life… shall separate us from the love of God… (Romans 8: 38-39)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to children or adults and talk about these human inclinations: our tendency to separate from God although God is always present, our tendency to try to be BIG DEALS, or our tendency to be oriented to our “stuff” rather than our loving relationships.