Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Picture Books
Finn Throws a Fit

Finn Throws a Fit

Fall 2009 Picture Books
Ages: 2 - 4 yrs.
Author: David Elliot
Illustrator: Timothy Basil Ering
Publisher: Candlewick Press
ISBN: 9780763623562
Hardcover Price: $16.99
Many a weary parent will nod knowingly and somewhat ruefully the minute this picture book about a tantrum-in-the-shape-of-a-toddler falls open in their laps. As the story opens, we see a smiling Finn sitting all alone on a green chair in the dead center of an almost blank page, cuddling his favorite fruit. The text reads: "Finn likes peaches. Usually." Turn the page and we see a whole different side of our hero. "But today, Finn doesn't like peaches. Today, Finn doesn't like anything." Off in a corner, face like thunder, Finn sits scrunched up in the same green chair while mother and father dangle enticements before their frowning offspring: a fish (on a fishing pole), a football, a lobster, a baseball and bat. The set-up is pretty much the entire story. "Thunder in the nursery! Lightning in the kitchen!" "The house floods." While the text matter-of-factly carries Finn's fit to its illogical extreme in short declarative sentences, the illustrations depict the escalating mayhem with broad-brushed humor. The family's little white dog swims through the living room (floods!); dishes fly off the table in the dining room (hurricanes!); drifts pile up in the bathroom (blizzards!). "It lasts until it doesn't." An exhausted Finn slumps, dead center on an almost blank page, panting. "The waters dry up. The winds die down. The snows melt." Only Finn knows what caused the storm…and he's not telling. "He'd like those peaches now. Please." Children will appreciate seeing the violence of their inner storms made real; parents will long for the time when they were allowed to lie on the floor themselves and kick their own cranky heels.
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard   ©2009 Parents' Choice
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard is the Coordinator of Youth Services for the Arlington Public Library system. She has taught courses on children’s and young adult literature at the Catholic University of America and the University of Virginia. She has served on both the Newbery and Caldecott Award Committees of the American Library Association and has chaired the Notable Children’s Recordings Committee and the May Hill Arbuthnot Award Committee. She is a member and past president of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington DC and has chaired the Washington Post–Book Guild Nonfiction Award Committee. She is a founding member of Capitol Choices, an organization of professionals in the field of children’s literature in the greater Washington DC area. She regularly reviews children’s literature and audio productions for a variety of national publications.

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