Poor Allie! She’s in a rage, stomping and smashing, throwing a tantrum, and having a fit. Is there a sweet little girl hiding somewhere under all the angry layers? With the help of her understanding big brother, she’s able to calm down, bit by bit, and become herself again. The illustrations’ varying hues and vibrant colors capture the powerful feelings that young children can’t always express in words.
I love the overall idea of this book—it walks you through some of the stages of anger a young girl has when her crayon breaks as her older brother tries to help her calm down. However, I’m not a fan of all of the methods they suggest to help her get less angry (punching a pillow, squeezing something really tight). I did like the steps to count down from ten and take deep breaths, but I think this could have had better tips to learn emotional regulation (like talking through the emotion). I also don’t love that when the girl gets mad she “stomped, smashed, crashed, and threw a tantrum, a fuss, and a fit.” I felt like that page condoned those behaviors when you’re mad.
This is a great book for giving a glimpse at some different techniques for coping with and working through anger in productive ways that are accessible to children and don’t condone being angry or lashing out at other people! Watching the little “monster” transition colors and work through the rainbow from red back to cooler colors and finally back to being just a little girl is a fun way to see Allie’s progress through her emotions.
Sarah Lynne Reul is an illustrator and award-winning 2D animator. She earned an MFA in 2D Animation from the Academy of Art University, and her thesis film, The Search for the Monster of Lake Quannapowitt, won Best Animation for Kids at Animation Block Party 2015. Learn more at her website, reuler.com. Originally from Brooklyn, she now lives just outside of Boston with her husband and two little girls. (Bio via Sterling Fall 2018 Catalog)
Where did you originally get the idea for this book?
When my girls were toddler, they would get so incredibly full of feelings that they would just explode into sobbing tantrums. Sometimes it seemed ridiculous, the things they would cry over (the blue cup is in the dishwasher! You wouldn’t let me play with the electrical cords! I can’t take my fingers off!)… But when you are so little and it’s hard to communicate, this stuff is as real as it gets.
When my youngest was a toddler, and in the middle of a fit, it often seemed like there was nothing I could do except wait for it to blow over – any attempt I made to talk with her just made it worse. However, her sister (4 years older), would often step in to help, and when she spoke, the little one would pause, sniff, and listen. That break from crying was sometimes enough of a distraction to let us in to help her find ways to calm herself, so that we could deal with the crux of the problem, whatever it was … and that’s what sparked the idea for ALLIE ALL ALONG
What part of creating Allie All Along did you most enjoy?
One thing that made ALLIE ALL ALONG super fun to create was that I was working in color almost from the beginning! You can see my rough thumbnail/storyboard drawings for the layout of the book above. Usually I start my projects with just plain old regular pencil and leave decisions about color for much later in the process, but for this story, the color scheme was integral all of the shedding layers.