Sunday, 6 January 2013

A review of "My Big Shouting Day" by Rebecca Patterson

Hi People in the Ether, and Happy New Year,

   So, Santa (and my very lovely boyfriend) brought me lots of lovely picture books, some cool YAs and a smattering of story-fuelled apps for Christmas. Very exciting stuff! And I'll spend the next few weeks reviewing them.

   "My Big Shouting Day" was a huge hit last year, and it won the Roald Dahl Funny Prize for children aged six and under. It follows Bella whose day goes from bad to worse as his baby brother drives her mad, the toothpaste is irritating and her shoes are annoying. Everything winds Bella up and so she vents her fury into almighty screams and shouts, hectoring her mother about the awful dramas she must endure.

    Bella is thrillingly vocal in her frustration. Young readers will identify with a tantrum-indulging protagonist as adult readers will giggle along at hysteria that is both familiar and ridiculous. The story is amusing and has a comforting conclusion - Bella apologises for being such a terror and is lovingly forgiven and hugged by her mum and treated to a bedtime story.

    Patterson's characters are bristly and realistic, and her text is full of fun extremes and repetition, everything is too this or too that. The story is succinct and perfectly rendered, accompanied by beautiful, bold and retro illustrations, complete with very emphatic facial expressions. I love how the minor background characters are unimpressed or merely amused of Bella's outbursts. The most effective spread features a supermarket scene - Bella's mother is suppressing her exasperation while  fellow shoppers are judgmental and disdainful.

    The varying font sizes reflect Bella's mounting fury. And the colour palette for the other characters and all the settings is subtle and full of pastel shades - while Bella herself, for most of the story, is kitted out in angry red. And the black chasm of her screaming mouth in each scene serves as a wonderful focal point.

      This is great for passionate pre-schoolers and weary adults, providing the former with a mirror to their own tantrums and resupplying the latter with wry laughs and some patience to help cope with such escapades  This summer sees a new Bella adventure "My Busy Being Ella Day", so more fun and histrionics are in store.

      Thanks for reading,

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