I know this is not a novel. Stop saying that. I know it’s a picture book for, like, three year olds. And I don’t care. I’m writing about it anyway.
I don’t read picture books. I’m not one of those people who look back with fondness on that favourite book they were read nightly by their devoted parents – my devoted parents read me books, sometimes, but mostly I read them to myself. Like, voraciously. Stacks and stacks from the library (the coolest place to be) back when I had nothing but time on my hands.
Then my own kiddies came along, and since I want to be a GOOD PARENT who makes sure my offspring SUCCEED IN THE FUTURE I bought some picture books and began reading nightly, and sometimes daily, and sometimes when I’m tired of running around playing Batman and Lightning McQueen fight the evil Transformer Decepticon stuffed rabbit. I read these books with energy, and sometimes I even do the voices. But here’s the thing – most of them aren’t very good. Except for a very few, and these ones I read over and over again until my children beg me to read the crappy ones, just for a change.
So back to Grumpy Bird. Back in March I was looking for a birthday present for my nephew. I don’t believe in adding to the world’s garbage by buying expensive, plastic, I- don’t-give-a-damn-about-the-environment-so-long-as-this-will-keep-my-kid-quiet-for-five-minutes toys. Books are forever, and just in case they’re not, most are made from biodegradable paper. Yah, I’m that aunt, aren’t you glad I’m not yours? The title caught my eye, and I started reading. I believe in reading the book before buying, and Jeremy Tankard had me at the first line:
“Bird woke up and he was grumpy.”
Soooo perfect. Simple, lyrical, completely fun. I bought it immediately, then I went back and bought one for myself…I mean for the kiddies. It is currently No.1 on the “books being read nightly” list.
(Spoiler alert!) By the end of the book, Bird has been prodded out of his grumpy mood by his animal friends, Raccoon, Beaver, Fox, Rabbit, etc.
(Side note: why do little kids’ books always have animals featured in the singular? Like these particular animals are the only ones left in the world, all the other rabbits have disappeared and only this Rabbit is left and therefore can dispense with the formalities of a name and identity. Just call me Rabbit, kid.)
They don’t actually do anything to help Grumpy Bird. There’s no Animal Intervention in the book. (Though that would be an AWESOME idea for a book!) All they do is follow him along, refuse to respond to his sarcastic comments (the sarcasm is for the entertainment of the adults. Sarcasm is lost on two year olds, take it from me) and keep him company by walking around the forest. The lesson is simple and subtle, yet recognizable even to a toddler – friends make a difference, and good company can scare the grumpies away.
This book actually has a lot in common with Michael Redhill’sConsolation, which I’m almost done reading, I swear! Review of that to follow…when I finish it…which will happen soon…I think…