Betty Goes Bananas – a little gorilla’s meltdown = fodder for behavior talk

thWhen she can’t open her banana, Betty the gorilla throws a tantrum (or three).

Bibliographic Info:  Antony, Steve  Betty Goes Bananas  Schwartz & Wade (2014) 32pp  Formats:  Hardcover ISBN: 978-0- 553-50761-4, Paperback, iBook, Kindle  Interest Level: toddler-preK  Reading Level (Grade Level Equivalent): not available  Genre: Read Aloud, Comedy and Humor  Themes: Emotional Development, Feelings

StorytimeWow_FinalLogo-1Betty Goes Bananas was given the StorytimeWOW Marquee Seal on March 14th, 2015 and has been selected for the PictureBookWOW and Picture eBookWOW collections at  Read the Storytime section below for details on why this picture book was selected and how it meets the StorytimeWOW Standards.

Summary:  A hungry baby gorilla named Betty wants to eat her banana.  When she cannot figure out how to peel it, little Betty throws a fit.  A helpful toucan (and a parental figure) kindly shows Betty how to peel it, prompting another fit (she wanted to peel it too).  When her banana breaks in half, poor Betty melts down yet again.

th-4Review:  In Betty Goes Bananas, a baby gorilla acts like all little children do when they hungry.  Poor Betty erupts in a tantrum when she cannot figure out her banana peel.  More tantrums comes when reasonable Mr. Toucan peels it for her and when Betty’s banana breaks in two.  Young listeners will recognize Betty’s behavior and laugh as Mr. Toucan glances knowingly toward them.  The illustrations of Betty and Mr. Toucan have a charming childlike quality.  Plain colored backgrounds reflect Betty’s emotions: yellow and white when she is calm and red when she is angry.  The inside cover of Betty Goes Bananas says “The illustrations were rendered using soft pencil and graphite sticks on cartridge paper, banana paper (for texture), and Adobe Photoshop.”  Nice touch with the banana paper, Mr. Antony.

Storytime:  Betty Goes Bananas makes a fun and satisfying read aloud for group storytimes.  It was selected for the PictureBookWOW and Picture eBookWOW collections on because it meets the following StorytimeWOW Standards:

  • Dynamic writing and universal appeal.  Betty is seriously appealing (wink).
  • A strong writing/illustrating relationship is evident.
  • The “WOW” factor (it’s enjoyable for kids) is evident.
  • Betty Goes Bananas is well-suited for repetition.  Children will want to hop on Betty’s entertaining emotional rollercoaster again and again.
  • Big, simple and easy to see illustrations work well for group storytimes.  This is a story that does not need to be projected on a big screen to be enjoyed by groups.  However, it is available in the iBook format (use this format if you can).  Using a large screen will add to the experience by allowing participants to see Mr. Toucan’s expressions from a distance.
  • Besides being an entertaining experience, the bibliotherapeutic takeaway of Betty Goes Bananas important.  This book has the potential to make children more self-aware by witnessing Betty’s extreme behavior.  Betty Goes Bananas serves as a great segue to a conversation about behavior and tantrums.
  • Teaching children about emotions may not sound like a fun theme, but it is an important one.  In this sense, the book is child-centered.  It also happens to be very funny, so kids will like it.
  • The concept is free of squirmy moments.
  • The interest level of this story hits the storytime target of toddlers and preKs.
  • There are repetitive elements in this story that may be utilized for participation. 

th-2Storytime Tips: When Betty cries, have the children “WAAAAA!”  When Betty sniffles, have the children “SNIFF, SNIFF!”  When Betty kicks, have the children “BANG BANG!”  When Betty Screams, have the children “AAAAAAHH!”  Model how to make these sounds and add actions so things don’t get too crazy.  Still, have some fun with this.  As the entertaining storyteller Roald Dahl said… “be sparky!”  Your storytime participants will enjoy you and your storytime more when you are enjoying yourself.

Early Childhood Education and Development:  The following lists the stand-out benefits of Betty Goes Bananas across various early childhood education (ECE) and child development checklists.

1. Betty Goes Bananas is a picture book/eBook that cultivates the following Pre-Reading Skills (see full list of pre-reading skills here):

  • Noticing print and following words on a page or screen (print awareness).
  • Cultivates interest and enjoyment in books (print motivation).
  • Being able to describe things (narrative skills)

2. This picture book/eBook provides opportunities to utilize the Early Literacy-building Parent Practices (see full list of parent practices here):

  • Talking with children builds their early literacy.  In this case, talk about Mr. Panda, manners, and the conduct of the animals.
  • Reading together is “the single most effective way to help children become proficient readers” (source:  Every Child Ready to Read).

3. This picture book/eBook builds children’s Kindergarten Readiness (see full checklist here).  Children well-prepared for kindergarten are able to:

  • Listen to stories without interrupting
  • Pay attention for short periods of time to adult-directed tasks
  • Speak understandably
  • Talk in complete sentences of five to six words
  • Look at pictures and then tell stories

4. This picture book/eBook follows Common Core Guidelines (see full list here):

  • Increase focus on children’s comprehension through dialogic reading.  Ask questions before, during and after telling stories.
  • Create a more participatory culture in group programs and classroom settings.  Use materials that invite participation and keep learners engaged.

5. This picture book/eBook supports the following “emerging mental abilities” in young children by providing opportunities for “key experiences” that strengthen and broaden these abilities (see full list here):

  • Using Language (conversing with adults about personally meaningful experiences, describing objects verbally, naming and expressing feelings in words, listening to others describe objects and events, listening to stories and poems being read, making up stories)
  • Temporal Relations (starting and stopping an action on signal)

th-3Bibliotherapeutic Usefulness:   This delightful story provides parents and teachers with opportunities to talk with kids about their behavior.  Ask kids if they ever feel like Betty.  Ask them what they would do if, like Betty, they could not peel their banana (yet really wanted to eat it).  Would they act like Betty?  Would they ask for help?  Stretch your conversation into an early literacy-building dialogue.  To do this, encourage children to speak openly and in complete sentences of 5 or more words.

Significance:  The New York Times stated “Betty Goes Bananas speaks to the foot-stomping toddler in all of us.”

Read-alikesWhen Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry by Molly Bangs, Glad Monster, Sad Monster by Ed Emberly and Anne Miranda, and Waiting is Not Easy by Mo Willems are picture books with emotional development themes.

Links:  author’s website   Amazon  

Other Reviews:  Goodreads   Kirkus

After enjoying author Steve Antony’s Please, Mr. Panda, I wanted more.  I was delighted to discover Betty Goes Bananas in iBook format and I am excited to share it in storytime.

3Make Reading More Fun

Written by Tom Schween, founder of storytimeWOW!