Finn Throws a Fit! by David Elliott

finCindy: Oh, we’ve all seen the toddler in the grocery store having a melt down (usually in back of us when we are in a really long line). Or we, ourselves, have woken up and everything is just WRONG about the day. Elliott captures that drama perfectly in Finn Throws a Fit (Candlewick, 2009). Finn usually likes peaches, but today he doesn’t like anything. His mother offers peaches, his father tries to cajole him out of his mood with footballs and fishing gear and his little white dog is wagging his tail ready to play, but Finn will have none of it. He stomps to his room kicking things on the way and the tantrum starts. It blows and thunders, accompanied by Ering’s fabulous howling charcoal, oil paint, and grease pencil illustrations, as the tantrum rages like natural disasters throughout each room of the house until…it doesn’t. Finn collapses, tongue out, and collects himself. The weather clears, the sun shines, and peaches would be lovely, please.

This story will probablfinn-2y be appreciated as much or more by the adults reading it aloud as it will by the tantrum throwing toddlers. My daughters were never tantrum types, but we all have those moments (or days) when the smallest thing triggers a bad mood to escalate beyond reason and these guys nail that emotion in this book. I love the illustration of the mother clinging to the drapes as the tantrum ends. This is a book I am going to cling to when the dark clouds roll in.

Lynn: This is a book that Cindy and I don’t see eye to eye on. I do adore the illustrations in this book especially the egg-shaped Finn, almost neckless in his blue sweater and the roiling storms of his tantrum that sweep away everything in its path. I like some of the concepts too. I like showing that you can have one of those days where nothing is right and that you can feel a lot better when the fit is over. The cover is terrific too – who could resist?finn-3

But the text is lacking something for me. I get it that tantrums aren’t always about big things but I needed something to be a trigger for a fit this monumental. I needed one more thing to push the bad mood into a catergory five storm. The lines that signal the end of the tantrum didn’t flow for me either. “The fit goes on and on. It last until it doesn’t.” Thud – try reading the book aloud and that last sentence hits the floor and just lies there.

I think the book is really much more for adults than for kids – at least it left our focus group puzzled. They liked the illustrations but they were confused by the tantrum. They kept asking me why Finn was so mad. They just didn’t buy a really bad day being the reason for all that. They don’t have younger siblings and weren’t tantrum kids themselves so it may be lack of exposure. Take a look and let us know who you side with here. The illustrations are awesome and maybe if I have a really good fit myself, I’ll feel better about things, including these complaints.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

2 Comments on "Finn Throws a Fit! by David Elliott"

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  1. maeve@maevefriel.com' Maeve Friel says:

    This sounds surprisingly like Angry Arthur, text by Hiawyn Oram, brilliantly illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura – winner of the 1983 Mother Goose Award.
    His tantrum is brought on by his mother telling him he can’t watch tv and must go to bed.
    “”No,” said his mother, “it’s too late. Go to bed.”
    “I’ll get angry,” said Arthur.
    “Get angry,” said his mother.
    So he did.””
    It is simply superb…

  2. dawnbonnevie@gmail.com' Dawn says:

    I agree with Lynn. There is a lot to love, but the text at the end of the tantrum is jarring. I found the sudden appearance of a smile and sunshine to be a little quick. I do think this book would be a favorite of kids who tantrum. As Lynn said, those who don’t wouldn’t have the personal experience to appreciate Finn’s emotions. Children who do feel such strong and sudden outbursts will be reassured that they too will be able to come out of the fit. Such children will likely want to be read Finn over and over.

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