The Children’s Book Review | February 26, 2019
Written by Michael Ian Black
Illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi
Age Range: 4-8 years
Paperback: 40 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (June 5, 2018)
What to expect: Humor, Emotional Insight, Potato
This is a great and funny and, I think, important book. It concerns a flamingo and a potato and a young girl. Basically, the flamingo feels sad but isn’t sure why and the book does a great job of explaining why that’s not only okay but (more importantly) pretty much inevitable. People (flamingos, potatoes) get sad and, sometimes, there isn’t much to be done about it – except, paradoxically, to accept it. This is more or less the central premise of acceptance and commitment therapy modalities, but rendered with charming illustrations by Debbie Ridpath Ohi, and the wit of actor, writer, director Michael Ian Black.
Once the flamingo announces that he feels sad, he wonders why and where it comes from because he can’t really pinpoint a reason: “Why do sad things happen?” he asks, to which potato (it really is a potato, go with it) replies, “That’s just the way it is.” Flamingo, not satisfied, sees that this merely begs the question and asks, “But why is that just the way it is?” In response to this, potato offers one of the most trenchant philosophical positions I’ve read in a long time: “Because if it were any other way, then that would be the way it is and it’s not that way. It’s this way.”
Later on, the girl and the potato spend some time trying to cheer the flamingo up, usually with things they like (ice-cream, soil) but to no avail, until the girl comes up with the insight that, “Maybe it’s okay just to be sad.” This worries the flamingo, who asks, “Will you still like me if I’m sad again tomorrow?” Potato comes through once again, offering up this zinger: “I don’t even like you now.”
Everybody laughs. Flamingo feels a bit better. But still a bit sad. Which is okay.
About the Author
Michael Ian Black is a writer, comedian, and actor who currently appears on Another Period, The Jim Gaffigan Show, and Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp. He created and starred in many television series, including Michael and Michael Have Issues, Stella, and The State. He wrote the screenplay for the film Run, Fatboy, Run and wrote and directed the film Wedding Daze. Michael regularly tours the country as a stand-up comedian and is the bestselling author of the book My Custom Van (and 50 Other Mind-Blowing Essays That Will Blow Your Mind All Over Your Face), the memoir You’re Not Doing It Right, and the children’s books Chicken Cheeks, The Purple Kangaroo, A Pig Parade Is a Terrible Idea, I’m Bored, Naked!, and Cock-a-Doodle-Doo-Bop. Michael lives in Connecticut with his wife and two children.
About the Illustrator
Debbie Ridpath Ohi is the author of Where Are My Books?. Her illustrations also appear in Sea Monkey and Bob, written by Aaron Reynolds; I’m Bored (New York Times Notable Book) and Naked!, written by Michael Ian Black; as well as ten Judy Blume chapter books and middle grade titles. For more info, visit DebbieOhi.com or @InkyElbows on Twitter.
I’m Sad, written by Michael Ian Black and illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi, was reviewed by Trevor Jockims. Discover more books like I’m Sad by following along with our reviews and articles tagged with Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Emotional Intelligence, Feelings, Michael Ian Black, and Social-Emotional.