The other day, Sprout came home in a mood that was way out of sorts. He's usually pretty easy going, but this particular night he was grouchy in the extreme. Right from the get-go, he made it clear that life wasn't going his way -- by complaining about dinner, throwing his coat, stomping down the hall (because right off the bat, we advised him to spend some cooling-off time in his room).
The whole evening got me thinking about moods, and how outside circumstances can influence our outlook on life. Who among us hasn't had their whole day lifted by some unexpected good news, or ended up in a terrible frame of mind after being stuck in traffic? It happens to little guys too, let's not forget. . . I had to remind myself of that, once Sprout calmed down and was able to verbalize what was going on with him (a falling-out with one of his best buddies had put him in an instant funk). We've all been there.
Tameka Fryer Brown examines the changeability of moods within one single day in her recent picture book My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood. I'd seen this one being talked about on the blogosphere, and was anxious to review it, though I thought it would be pretty similar to this title that I reviewed just a couple of months ago. Happily, though the mood/color connection was reminiscent, Brown's book is a stand-out all on its own. And it features illustrations by Shane Evans, whose artistic style we really love, making Cold Plum all the more distinct in its own right.
Jamie, the main character in Cold Plum, is having an up-and-down day. It starts off pretty good, in a "cold-plum eating / grape-juice drinking" purple kind of way. Then he runs into some trouble with his older brothers, and Jamie's day swings over to a stormy gray. It's better when he colors with his little sister ("Jell-O green"), worse when his brothers make fun of him ("brooding black mood"), and ends up being pretty okay, "cool, blue okay" as Jamie does the dishes after a really awesome dinner with his family.
Evans plays with Brown's vivid, snappy words -- poems really -- by creating spreads that are color-drenched and deep with tone and texture. Each page stands on its own as a representation of the specific mood Brown's getting at. I really like brown, the color that the author uses for Jamie's determination to stop being pushed around by his big brothers. "Planted. . . fierce. . ./ Not backing down -- Grrrrrrrr! / Big, strong brown / I win!". Love, love, love this image of brown as a strong, determined boy standing up for what he believes in. This is a terrific, subtle reinforcement for kiddos like Sprout, who not only have shared Jamie's feelings, but also share the same skin color.
Read My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood and enjoy the rhythm of the text as well as the images it evokes. Then take a break to talk with your kiddo about feelings, moods and the ways we choose to react to the happenings of our day. There's a lot of opportunity here, for discussion as well as expression.
My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood by Tameka Fryer Brown, published by Viking