Life provides its share of hardships and frustrations. Some people respond to all the pressure by bottling up their emotions. But Corchin recommends that readers unleash whatever emotions they are feeling. If it’s rage, he suggests flipping a table or blowing up and popping balloons. For those who feel depressed or unhappy, it’s OK to cry and belt out sad songs or spend an entire day binging on melancholy movies. While the author, who’s previously written children’s books on similar topics, goes for laughs, this is a bona-fide self-help manual. So much of what he urges readers to do are healthy coping mechanisms that harm no one. He doesn’t simply deliver advice on how to react, but recommends possible ways to avoid stress or things that cause anxiety. For example, Corchin tells readers to ignore social media influencers; many of those seemingly perfect people who are always posting online are anything but. The author moreover advocates the potential benefits of therapy as well as medications that a physician might prescribe. As this is a picture book, messages are also relayed through Dougherty’s artwork. The characters are depicted subverting or overcoming negativity by exercising at the gym, gleefully devouring a whole cake, and hugging a pillow, a cat, or one another.
Corchin’s words and Dougherty’s illustrations complement each other throughout this rib-tickling work. The author, for instance, proposes dealing with anger by flipping off a squirrel—and there’s a cute gray one clearly startled to see a man do just that. The breezy prose gives the impression of tough love, primarily through the author dropping expletives with reckless abandon. But the advice is more obliging than pushy—and often zany: “You want to try therapy? Yes! Fucking do it. Everybody’s doing it.” Dougherty’s multihued art is impeccable, teeming with bold lines, sharp colors, and rich character and background details. Facial expressions are especially effective, as it’s easy to distinguish between such temperaments as anger, sorrow, and even boredom. But he truly excels at lighting effects, from a TV or a cellphone emitting a calming bluish tone to sunlight painting a living room with giant windows a beautiful amber. The lighting also helps establish characters’ moods. Some individuals scouring their personal laptops for new jobs (per Corchin’s recommendation) look peaceful, with their computer screens brightening their faces as they sit in a strip club filled with muted shades. The players prove as colorful as the backdrops; the diverse cast features different races, gender identifications, and body shapes. The engaging story shows how people from around the world and all walks of life endure similar problems and may need a helping hand. Or, if the situation calls for it, an upraised middle finger.
This entertaining, spirited work promotes self-improvement in a highly amusing and quirky way.