A dog solves the mystery of a missing sock while introducing young readers to British English terms.
In this debut picture book, Greer unveils Grumpmuffin, a wiry-haired canine who’s the most sensible member of the Winterbottom family. He watches from his perch on the bed as Mr. Winterbottom becomes frustrated over a missing argyle sock while getting dressed. Though the rest of the household is unsympathetic (“There were times when Mr. Winterbottom felt like his entire family was conspiring against him”), Grumpmuffin decides to investigate after everyone leaves for the day. In a series of colorful, Edward Gorey–style illustrations, he searches the house and locates the sock, which has become part of an arts-and-crafts project that highlights the great love that the members of the Winterbottom family have for one another. The illustrations rely on subtle details to remind readers of the differences between Grumpmuffin’s English home and typical American ones. In one scene, for example, a cricket bat leans against a bedroom wall; in another, a washing machine, compact and tucked under the kitchen counter, is clearly a European model. A sly humor extends throughout the text and illustrations, as when a “warren of dust bunnies” is depicted as a group of small rabbits playing poker in a corner or when Grumpmuffin admits that he “had always been a sentimental old thing.” The author highlights words not often found in American English (“loo”; “whinging”) and defines them in a glossary at the end of the book, although some phrases, such as “Knees Up Mother Brown” and “bits of tat,” may leave readers wishing for even more comprehensive definitions. In the end, Greer open-endedly leaves readers wondering about Mr. Winterbottom’s reaction to his repurposed sock.
A charmingly illustrated, slyly funny tale of a family pet in the United Kingdom.