“Do you ever wish everyone would go away? Are you anti-everything?”
Lockdown has taken a toll on all of us. Emotions can run high during the long days inside. We are quicker to snap and get angry. The simplest things can set us off. Children especially can have many challenges when it comes to managing their feelings. Anger, frustration and sadness can get bottled up. They might feel like they want to world to go away. The Anti-Book by Raphael Simon is a story about finding your way back to happy after feeling anti-everything for so long.
Mickey wants to be left alone. He can’t stand anything anymore. He can’t stand his school. He can’t stand his house. He can’t stand his dog. He especially can’t stand his parents – not after they announced they are separating. And his sister is no help at all. She’s too busy with her jerk of a boyfriend to care about Mickey.
The only thing Mickey likes to do these days is chew bubble gum. One day he finds a coupon inside his gum wrapper for something called an anti-book. One week later it arrives with a set of simple instructions: “to erase it, write it.” So Mickey furiously starts writing down everything he can’t stand from his big sister to herbal tea. The list goes on and on until his pencil is worn down to a nub.
The next morning Mickey wakes up and everything’s changed. His dog is gone. His parents are gone. His entire town seems empty until he stumbles across his big sister…who is now only three inches tall. As they wander the vacant streets looking for answers, they are followed by something. It turns out to be a boy named Shadow, who looks an awful lot like Mickey, only he’s wispy, almost see-through. Shadow tells them they are in the anti-world – a world that’s divided into four states of mind: mad, bad, sad and finally…. glad.
The adventure through the anti-world turns out to be quite an emotional experience for Mickey. He comes to realize just how angry he is inside and how this negative cycle keeps him feeling bad all the time. The Anti-Book expresses what we’ve all been feeling: anger and loss. It can serve as a bridge for your child to talk about their feelings and hopefully start their own journey from ‘mad’ to ‘glad’.
For other great chapter books to read with your child, be sure to check out Simon B. Rhymin’ by Dwayne Reed and the Hockey Super Six series by Kevin Sylvester.
— Lesley L.