Grouchy siblings try to shake each other in and out of bad moods.
Bouncing, irregularly rhyming text that pops with soft-G sounds explores the different ways of getting someone out of a grump-spiral. “You might ask the curmudgeon / if he wouldn’t mind scooching / over a smidgen.” Or: “Hugs can budge curmudgeons,” and if all else fails, “Some say, / ‘If you can’t budge ’em, / join ’em.” The curmudgeon (defined in the beginning as “A bad-tempered, difficult, cranky person”) looks like a fanged and furry orange monster that slowly distills into a white child with red hair as their mood improves. Their sibling, initially presented as human, then begins their own transformation as their mood sours, growing fangs and fuzzy, clawful paws. The art in this story is rich and satisfying, created with stamps and blow pens, and it practically bursts off the page. The text is less engaging, sometimes feeling contrived and other times cloying or preachy. The thin story closes with “It can be tricky / to get the gunk off / the funkiest funks, / but once a curmudgeon / begins to budge… // …you’d be surprised how quickly… / the grouchiness can vanish!” It’s an awfully chipper signoff for a book that’s supposedly about inveterate grumps. The siblings, with red hair that matches the curmudgeon’s fuzz, both present white.
Explorations of bad moods can be potent source material, but this jumbled attempt will give curmudgeons one more thing to complain about. (Picture book. 4-6)