What human doesn’t struggle with keeping their cool? Especially in the face of provocation….And bulls? Well, we know they see red quite often, right?
My friends, I present Clovis, a bull in charge of his granny’s china shop. Look at how he pours his tea. Look at how daintily he sits at that tiny table. Clovis is no ordinary bull. And who are those nefarious characters lurking in the background? We have questions that beg for answers.
The china shop is a labor of love, Clovis’s way of honoring his granny who’s passed away. Through the common ground of love for a grandparent, the reader connects with Clovis and how carefully he works to preserve Granny’s memory.
But Clovis has a history of losing his temper, especially when he used to play football, a sport that’s inherently violent.
When a group of old rival players (a bunch of bullies) show up at the shop, they push Clovis’s buttons. But he manages his anger, and the bullies get bored and leave.
He sings his granny’s song as he continues to work in the shop….
A song that will prove his saving grace…eventually.
The hecklers return. He controls himself again, and regains his grace.
The hecklers return.
And then they do the unthinkable. They toss a tea cup to him like passing a football, and Clovis can’t react fast enough to catch it.
On a fury-filled spread, Clovis loses his cool. And breaks even more china. He chases the bullies to the end of a dark alley, where Clovis lowers his horns to strike.
What will Clovis do? The illustration contains a clue.
But I’m not going to spill the tea. You’ll have to read the book to find out.
A perfect story about dealing with anger and provocation—gracefully. If a bull can do it, then so can you. Kudo’s to Katelyn Aronson for creating this fearsome character with such a tender heart. And additional kudo’s to Eve Farb for bringing Clovis and his football rivals to life in empathy-filled illustrations that also elicit smiles as we linger on each spread.
Craft: A note about pacing for picture book writers. The space between provocations decreases as the story progresses, giving Clovis less time to recover his grace. The reader feels this compression, too, and its associated heightened suspense.
Make an origami bull
Check out the Child Mind Institute’s suggestions for dealing with explosive anger
Learn about and practice mindfulness in this Cosmic Kids video.
Title: Clovis Keeps His Cool
Author: Katelyn Aronson
Illustrator: Eve Farb
Publisher: Page Street Kids, 2021
Themes: anger, bullying, dealing with emotions
For more perfect picture book recommendations, please visit Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book website.