I'm Sad by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi
illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi
Purchased from First Book
I'm Sad takes on a challenging, sometimes confusing emotion and explores it through humor and friendship with thoughtful restraint, in both text and illustrations. Written entirely in dialogue, a unique trio of friends (a flamingo, a child with pigtails and a potato) ponder the nature of sadness after Flamingo, alone on the first page of the book, head hung low, sighs, "I'm sad."
Leading with this important question, "Will I always feel like this?" a discussion ensues. The response, "Everybody feels sad sometimes. Even astronauts," leads to another, less answerable question: "Why do sad things happen?" When the trio cannot answer this question, they decide, at the suggestion of Potato, to try some, "good old-fashioned cheering up." While the various attempts fail to make all three friends happy, readers will find their attempts funny. As the book draws to a close, the child wonders, "Maybe it's okay just to be sad. . . Sometimes when I'm sad it feels kind of good to let myself be sad." Potato, the comedic foil for the child and Flamingo, responds, "That's weird," which marks an ideal jumping off point for a discussion about the value in feeling your feelings instead of ignoring, judging or pushing them away. Flamingo (the surrogate child in this story) asks, "Will you still like me if I'm sad again tomorrow?" And the child (the surrogate parent in this story) responds, "I don't like you just when you're happy. I like you all the time. When you're sad or angry or bored or anything else." With a page turn, Potato's response, "I don't even like you now," shows all three friends laughing uproariously across a two page spread, "Haaa!" filling the pages. In a final expression of understanding and acceptance, Black ends with the child asking, "Do you still feel sad?" to which Flamingo responds, "I still feel a bit sad, but I also feel a little bit better."
Sadness can have many layers of depth and as many ways to find relief from it. I am grateful that children have I'm Sad to help them begin to develop their emotional intelligence from an early age. I'm Sad is an essential addition to any library, but especially one dedicated to social-emotional learning. Be sure to include When Sadness Is at Your Door by Eva Eland in your library as well.
Don't miss these other books in
Black & Ohi's I'm Books Series