In spare, poignant, direct prose, I Hate Everyone paints a nuanced and honest portrait of the complex emotional lives of children.
"I hate everyone." In your worst mood, it's a phrase you might want to shout out loud, even if, deep down, you don't really mean it. Set at a birthday party, this disgruntled, first-person story portrays the confusing feelings that sometimes make it impossible to be nice, even-or especially-when everyone else is in a partying mode. A gorgeous, poetic contemplation, sure to elicit a reaction from readers. A worthy successor toAlexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
Naomi Danis drew on her own childhood memories in this her sixth book for young readers, following her New York Times-praised I Hate Everyone—also illustrated by Cinta Arribas—and While Grandpa Naps. She tries in her stories to notice and give voice to emotions that are universal but not always spoken, to help children feel seen, and to allow them to appreciate their own relationships in both their sheltering companionship and their complications. She hopes her books demonstrate love, even when they don't always use that word. She lives in Forest Hills, New York, and feels lucky to be writing in what she considers to be a new golden age of picture books.
"The book reads like a version of Whitman's barbaric yawp...wildly alive....The way she grasps at and... rejects love...is universal and timeless. Tolstoy was after this realization, too, and it took him 1,000 pages"
– The New York Times Book Review
It's the young narrator's birthday, and she is a hot mess of emotions: "I hate you. Don't sing! Take off the silly hats. Stop smiling. Stop laughing." She insists that no one look at her-then dumps a bowl of snacks on her head to get attention. She complains about the sound of popping balloons, and then pops them herself. What's wrong? Aside from a hit of existential dread ("How old am I now? I am always too little. Unless I am too big"), she doesn't know-and Danis (Walk with Me) wisely withholds an explanation from readers, who have undoubtedly experienced similar Sturm und Drang. Arribas's stylish illustrations combine big solid shapes with thick, markerlike textures and tones and overlays (sometimes off-register) of reds and blues on crisp white fields. The bold, sophisticated artwork captures a child's sensibility and authentic rage, while at the same time reassuring readers there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. And sure enough, an adult intervenes, the girl realizes the contradictory nature of her own feelings ("Somehow even while I am busy hating you... Deep down... I love you!") and she's ready to hear everyone sing "Happy Birthday."