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THE GRUDGE KEEPER by Mara Rockliff Kirkus Star


by Mara Rockliff ; illustrated by Eliza Wheeler

Pub Date: April 1st, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-56145-729-8
Publisher: Peachtree

“No one in the town of Bonnyripple ever kept a grudge. No one, that is, except old Cornelius, the Grudge Keeper.” So begins this original fairy tale that provides a literal illustration of the idiom “holding a grudge.”

Three grudges are born in scene-setting vignettes: Minnie’s goat eats Elvira Bogg’s prizewinning zinnias. A schoolboy snatches the schoolmaster’s toupee. And tragically, clumsy Big Otto “stomp[s] on Lily Belle’s new shoes at the spring fling.” The grudges are actual pieces of paper that the angry, pinch-faced people hand over to a gentle old man named Cornelius. His house is jammed full with these scrolls, each one representing a hurt feeling. But one night, the wind begins to blow. Like a tornado, it rips through town, blowing out candles and flinging pies into the air. The next morning, the people of Bonnyripple storm up to Cornelius’ house with all their new complaints. But what has happened to all the grudges? More importantly, what has happened to Cornelius? Rockliff has created a clever fable characterized by ornate language, extraordinary characters and billowy atmosphere. “Tiffs and huffs, squabbles and quibbles—all the grudges had been tossed away, down to the last small scrap of pique.” Wheeler’s strong, witty ink-and-watercolor illustrations combine with the text to humorously demonstrate that “holding a grudge” is a bad thing.

Wordplay and humor provide an effective vehicle for a valuable moral.

(Picture book. 5-8)