(JUST BEING ME series)

Little, Brown & Co., May 2005

Illustrated by Nicole Hollander

I love to watch young children. I find almost everything they do and say fascinating wherever they are — in the subway, on a bus, in the park, at the playground, walking down the street, in the supermarket, getting dressed, taking a bath, or getting ready for bed. I always take a pencil and a small pad of paper with me wherever I go and jot down the many humorous and fascinating things young children do and say. One day, I came up with the idea of writing books for young children about the ups and downs of their daily lives.

After I wrote these four books, I realized that the characters — young children — were just being themselves. At a meeting with my editor Andrea Spooner and the illustrator for these books, Nicole Hollander, we came up with the idea of calling this series JUST BEING ME books. Nicole, creator of the syndicated comic strip SYLVIA, then created the warm, dazzling, and humorous art for all four books in this series.

Linda C. Mayes, MD, Arnold Gesell Professor at The Yale University Child Study Center and chairman of the directorial team of The Anna Freud Center in London, has written a note for parents and educators at the end of each book called “What’s Going On?” She answers that question with clear, useful, fascinating, and wise insights.

One day at the supermarket, I saw a young child having a temper tantrum. The moment his Mommy said, “NO ice cream,” the child screamed, “I’m so mad — mad-ddd at Mommy!” Then he ran and picked an orange from a pyramid of oranges and all the oranges went tumbling to the floor. The mother and child both laughed and the tantrum was over.

I took out my pencil and wrote down what this child looked like, what he yelled, what stopped his tantrum, what his mommy looked like, what she said, and so many other details. It was crystal-clear to me that the story of a young child going shopping with Mommy and then having a tantrum when you can’t get what you want, is the story of every young child. I felt I had to write this story and it became the JUST BEING ME book — I’M SO MAD!

“Acclaimed author Harris pens marvelous books about the real and powerful feelings of young children, such as “It’s Perfectly Normal” and “Happy Birth Day.” Her new series, “Just Being Me,” with syndicated cartoonist Hollander, aims to let kids and parents breathe easier by depicting daily tot struggles as normal, healthy and even funny. In “I’m Not Sleepy!” a boy typically is not ready to go to sleep. But Harris’ fun story captures the soothing rituals — reading a story, stuffed animals — tots need. “I’m So Mad!” tells of a shopping trip complete with a little girl’s tantrum over ice cream, and a mother’s creative orange-stacking activity to get her child’s mind off her woes. Both books add a “What’s Going On?” section at the back for parents. Also helpful from Harris, especially for parents of 2-year-olds or twins, is “Sweet Jasmine, Nice Jackson,” illustrated by Michael Emberley. This “Growing Up Story” chronicles the lives of 2-year-olds in an entertaining and helpful manner. And Harris’ “Don’t Forget to Come Back!”, tells a universal tale — one of a little girl who really doesn’t want to stay with a baby sitter. She tries everything — threats, running away, (for a minute), hiding in a closet and making her parents promise they’ll return. But after the fun baby sitter arrives, her mood changes and she enjoys herself once again. Youngsters will certainly relate to Harris’ honest portrayal.”

-Lodi News Sentinel

“Book 1 in the “Just Being Me” series addresses the important issue of a child’s anger and the tantrums that often follow. When the little girl and her mother go to the grocery store, everything is fine until the little girl decides that she just has to have ice cream. She screams and cries and kicks her feet until her mom is so frustrated that she heads to the checkout counter in a hurry to leave the store. But a little accident with a display of oranges makes the little girl understand that throwing a fit is not the way to get what you want. A good story to help children and parents understand anger and its consequences.” (Ages 4-8)

-Christina Lewis,

“This small picture book is the first in a Just Being Me series that combines typical (and often challenging) experiences in the daily routine of a small child and caregiver, with a brief ‘What’s Going On?’ analysis (at the back of the book) by child psychiatrist Dr. Linda Mayes (a Yale professor with impressive credentials).
In I’m SO Mad!, Robie H. Harris shows a small girl and her mother grocery shopping. Remember those days? If you do, or are in the middle of them now, you’re probably cringing. It can be so difficult to deal with a child’s unreasonable demands and tantrums in a public place, and the grocery store is full of temptation for little ones. This tale is told from the girl’s point of view (emphasized by Nicole Hollander’s childlike illustrations).
When the battle of wills erupted, the little girl recalls ‘I made a big fuss. A REALLY big, NOISY fuss!’ But when it settled down, she gave her mom a hug, and the small tempest was forgiven on both sides. As Dr. Mayes tells us, though the mom in this story makes the trip a ‘shared adventure’ by giving her daughter choices (like the kind of bread to buy), there will always be moments when the child wants something now, followed by the inevitable tantrum. This clever mom helps her daughter to move on, and even finds shared humor in a minor disaster.
This excellent new Just Being Me series provides harried moms, dads and other caregivers examples of effective parenting behaviors, and validation of what they do well. It also reinforces the message to young readers that they’re still loved, despite the anger and tussles of will that are part of living as a family.”

-Hilary Williamson,

“Young children often want many things — and they always want it now! Even everyday tasks such as a trip to the supermarket can give young children reason to get angry and frustrated… especially when they don’t get their way immediately.
The book, “I’m So Mad!” tells the story of a trip to the store, through the eyes of a young child. The child goes through different emotions while picking out items with her mother. Shopping can be a fun experience, or it can make a young child angry and disruptive if they don’t get their way. In this story, the little girl cannot buy ice cream when she wants…that made her very mad. It also made her mother mad, but their frustration turned to smiles after the young child accidentally knocks down a pile of oranges. They both share an emotional moment and clean up the mess together. highly recommends this book for young children — they’ll enjoy the descriptive and colorful illustrations, and beginning readers will appreciate the easy-to-read text. This book is part of a new series of picture books called, “Just Being Me,” which gives a child’s-eye view of a child’s everyday challenges, triumphs and experiences. Young children are sure to relate to the child in this story. Parents can use this book to help their children better understand their emotions, and explain how to best deal with angry feelings and not being able to get what they want when they want it. In addition, the story is the perfect length for very young children.”

-My ParenTime, March 2005