THE BIG SCREAM, by Kirsti Call, illustrated by Denis Angelov

The very first picture book I ever wrote was called Wilma and the Big Scream. It featured dramatic lines like: The scream was so loud people on the other side of the world woke up! The scream was so loud spiders fell out of their webs! The scream was so loud birds fell out of the trees!

Wilma and the Big Scream was a favorite story at my house. Whenever a particular daughter (who would not be named except for the book’s dedication: To Sydney, the original BIG screamer.) screamed, I told her stories of Wilma who figured out how to stop screaming. I hoped my stories would change Sydney’s narrative, helping her learn coping mechanisms and other ways of expressing herself. It mostly worked. Now she’s 16 years old (hey, it only took 10 years for this book to make it’s way into the world!) and hardly ever screams at all.

About 10 years ago, I brought WILMA to the Writer’s Rumpus critique group. I got an offer for Wilma and the Big Scream with a small press shortly thereafter. Ultimately, I decided not to go with them, and I’m so grateful! After dozens of revisions, and cutting my darlings from 500 words to 72, THE BIG SCREAM is a board book published by Little Simon!

Here’s my favorite spread–spoiler alert–it involves a tantrum.

Publishing is a waiting game. And it’s worth the wait. Here’s the song Sydney wrote for THE BIG SCREAM. I think it’s a scream!!!!

And, here’s our starred review from School Library Journal!


The Big Scream

by Kirsti Call (text) & illus. by Denis Angelov

Little Simon. Jun. 2022. 26p. Board $7.99. ISBN 9781665907392.


 Toddler-PreS–Big emotions can be hard for little ones to understand. This developmentally appropriate board book meets toddlers where they keep their feelings and does a spectacular job of tackling the topic with sparse text and vivid illustrations. A young boy is having a hard morning after realizing there are no more cookies left in the cookie jar. “Uh-oh! Big cry/ Can’t stop Toys fly/ Can’t breathe Fists Pound/ Big wail Kick ground.” After a time-out with deep breathing and counting to ten, a hug and big love make it all better.

VERDICT A first purchase.

Reviewed by Brooke Newberry , Jun 17, 2022

Hopefully toddlers everywhere will find this book practical AND a scream of a read! Hopefully they will connect with their own feelings and the people around them. And perhaps the adults will too.

July Picture Book Opportunities will appear on July 5. Check out Picture Book Support for a preview.


  1. We love the song and the book Kirsti! Thank you for creating it. My little guy certainly has big scream moments and we’ll be able to use this during happy times, and breathing times!


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