Good Morning, Grumple

Title: Good Morning, Grumple
Author: Victoria Allenby
Illustrator: Manon Gauthier
Published: Pajama Press, 2017

 

If you know Vivi personally, you are probably aware of her extreme grump-ish tendencies. In fact, Vivi’s nickname is Grumpkin (given to her on day three of life). My brother has always referred to her as “Grumples,” so when I saw this book at the library, I HAD to read it.

It’s the story of an exceptionally grumpy ‘Grumple’ and how to help the little critter wake up and face the day without TOO much hassle.

Because mornings for a Grumple? So hard. So very hard. My Grumple tends to be a night-owl. If Vivi set the work/school day, she’d start at around 10:00 AM and hit the hay around 10:00 PM. Hopefully, when she’s a well-paid animal dentist (her ideal career currently), she can set her own hours.

This was one of those “I liked a few buts of it, but won’t be buying it for our collection” books. Here’s the stuff I liked:

  1. I liked the concept of a Grumple. Most kids aren’t super-excited to wake up every morning (Lily is the exception, and I expect this will change when she starts school in the fall). Parents can relate to the tightrope act of having to wake kids up cheerfully…but not TOO cheerfully.
  2. I liked the escalation of volume that the mother uses when she’s trying to wake her Grumple up.
  3. I’m unsure about the art. I like the character of the Grumple. It’s cute. But…the rest of the art…well, let’s move on to part two.

 

Part 2: This is the stuff I had issues with:

  1. The art. I’m conflicted, because I see what the artist was doing. The book looks as if it could’ve been drawn by a child…on purpose, of course. The art appears to be made from cut paper/pencil crayon/pencil/paint. The colour palette is simple and muted. I WANT to like the art, but in my heart of hearts…I just don’t. Picture book art these days has such high standards (shout out to Mo Willems, John J. Muth, Barbara Reid, Dan Santat…the list goes on and on). I feel like you need to bring your A-game. This doesn’t feel like an A-game.
  2. The rhythm of the story. Picture books are sort of like music. Reading them has to feel natural and good text has a certain cadence to it. I had a REALLY hard time finding the right way to read this book. (And if you know me, you know I give it my all when I’m reading a picture book. I am not afraid to get into character/make a fool of myself if it makes the story more fun). I tried it three different ways and, honestly, nothing felt ‘right.’
  3. My kids didn’t find it funny. I thought that, at the very least, Vivi would get a kick out of the ‘Grumple’ thing. Nope. Any book my kiddos don’t get into is a bit of a surprise, as they love a wide variety of stories. They didn’t want to hear this one again.
  4. I know I’m being picky, but there’s an incorrect usage of ‘it’s’ in the story. It should be ‘its’ but there’s a pesky apostrophe popping in where it shouldn’t be. Yeah, it’s minor…but this is a published, printed book. It shouldn’t have typos.

So…yeah. I don’t love doing reviews of books I don’t enjoy, but there you go. I had high hopes, but this one just left me feeling…well…grumpy.

 

Mama’s Review: C-Game
Lily’s Review: Meh.

Have You Seen Birds?

Have You Seen Birds?

 

Title: Have You Seen Birds?
Author: Joanne Oppenheim
Illustrator: Barbara Reid
Published: Scholastic, 1986

 

You guys, I feel kind of silly. I called myself a HUGE picture book fan, but I wasn’t familiar with the work of the uber-talented Toronto-based artist, Barbara Reid.

Until I had kids, that is.

Barbara Reid is a phenomenal artist. The first book of hers that we received was Welcome, Baby. We had a book-themed baby shower for Vivi and one of my dear friends gave us a copy. I don’t know if it was pregnancy hormones or the fact that the book is just beautifully written and illustrated, but I totally bawled when I read it. And, I’m not ashamed to admit, I still get teary-eyed when I read it now. (Even though my kiddos are ‘too old’ for board books, there are some that still live on our shelves. And occasionally I force them to listen to them once more. I figure having a mom like me will be character-building in the long run.)

Whenever we see Ms. Reid’s books at Chapters or in the Scholastic book order, we make sure to add them to our library. One of Lily’s favourites is Have You Seen Birds? It’s not new (although it was in a recent book order), but it was new to us. What’s it about? Well, in a word: birds.

But in more words, it’s about different types of birds, where they live, what they look like, what they eat – useful information like that. And the pictures? Well, they’re excellent. Barbara Reid illustrates in plasticine. This gives the illustrations a totally different look than if they were drawn in any other medium. There’s a real 3-D quality to every picture, and the details and textures are wonderful.

The story itself is minimal, almost poetic. But it works really well with the pictures, is fun to read aloud and makes for a great pre-bedtime story. Lily can name almost every single species of bird in the book, and has only one criticism to share: “Where’s the red-winged-blackbird? He seems to be missing.”

(Back story: Lily has a special relationship with a red-winged-blackbird that frequents our bird feeder. His name is Montaboo and she loves him. She was dismayed he didn’t make the book.)

Beyond that, however, it’s a pretty well perfect picture book. Let’s hear it for the birds!

Mama’s review: 5/5 delicious worms
Lily’s review: “I still love it, even if Monty is missing.”