To wash away a stubborn case of the grumps, skip this and pick up Claire Messer’s Grumpy Pants (2016) instead.

A disgruntled duck brings a dark cloud upon her friends.

Duck is grumpy, the pond is dry, and there’s nobody to play with. A little gray cloud forms above her head, matching her mood. Though friends suggest activities to smooth her ruffled feathers, she rudely turns up her bill at digging holes with Dog or munching laundry with Goat, and she “just [doesn’t] do cockadoodling.” With each snub and each animal’s retort (including Pig’s out-of-place “honked” oink), Duck’s cloud swells until it’s “BLACK” and “GINORMOUS” and everybody’s grumpy, demonstrating the cumulative effect of taking anger out on others. Just as it threatens to blot out the sun forever, it bursts with a “SPLATT PLITTER PLATT” into “MILLIONS OF BIG SHINY WET SPLASHY RAINDROPS,” conveniently remedying Duck’s initial complaint. The animals burst into a waddling, barking, cockadoodling rendition of “Singin’ in the Rain,” and Duck exits under a double-page rainbow, her rudeness apparently forgotten. The author’s storm metaphor is simultaneously clichéd and unclear. Though the exuberant downpour may symbolize that “GLOOM cloud[s]” pass, its literal gratification of Duck’s griping may imply that bad moods are good reasons to be unkind—a message caregivers won’t appreciate. Horácek’s bold, textured mixed-media illustrations pop, but his animated critters can’t save the text’s muddled moral.

To wash away a stubborn case of the grumps, skip this and pick up Claire Messer’s Grumpy Pants (2016) instead. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0424-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019


A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies.

Pigeon finds something better to drive than some old bus.

This time it’s Santa delivering the fateful titular words, and with a “Ho. Ho. Whoa!” the badgering begins: “C’mon! Where’s your holiday spirit? It would be a Christmas MIRACLE! Don’t you want to be part of a Christmas miracle…?” Pigeon is determined: “I can do Santa stuff!” Like wrapping gifts (though the accompanying illustration shows a rather untidy present), delivering them (the image of Pigeon attempting to get an oversize sack down a chimney will have little ones giggling), and eating plenty of cookies. Alas, as Willems’ legion of young fans will gleefully predict, not even Pigeon’s by-now well-honed persuasive powers (“I CAN BE JOLLY!”) will budge the sleigh’s large and stinky reindeer guardian. “BAH. Also humbug.” In the typically minimalist art, the frustrated feathered one sports a floppily expressive green and red elf hat for this seasonal addition to the series—but then discards it at the end for, uh oh, a pair of bunny ears. What could Pigeon have in mind now? “Egg delivery, anyone?”

A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781454952770

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023


Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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