An out-of-sorts goat goes back and forth between grumpy and happy in this slight tale with a murky message.
Formerly a friendly farm, Sunny Acres changes with the arrival of Goat, who has never had a friend before. “He was hungry. He was grumpy. He didn’t want to share.” He spurns the other animals’ friendly overtures and focuses on scowling and eating. But the lone dandelion in full bloom at the top of Sunrise Hill stops him in his tracks—it “remind[s] him of something.” He provides water and keeps the grass around it trimmed neatly. Most notably, when the other animals approach, he doesn’t chase them away or scowl, finally making friends. But his melancholy returns when the dandelion turns into a fragile puff that disappears in the breeze. Unable to cheer him up, his farmyard friends keep him company…until those scattered seeds bear fruit, bathing the hillside in yellow-flower sunshine. Helquist’s acrylic-and-oil illustrations fail to take advantage of the obvious interplay of emotions, the palette remaining overly dark throughout most of the pages. The cartoonish animals speak volumes with their comical facial expressions, though this adds to the facile treatment of Goat’s moodiness.
The book fails to address the roots of Goat’s bad temper or his turnaround, equating them with dandelions in the wind, and may leave readers feeling grumpy with the lack of a true problem or solution. (Picture book. 4-7)