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Children’s Book Review: GRUMP GROAN GROWL

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GRUMP GROAN GROWL by bell hooks, illustrated by Chris Raschka

GRUMP GROAN GROWL

GRUMP

GROAN

GROWL

Bad mood on
the prowl

In his fresh look at a fun and positive way to face our bad, grumpy, and wild moods, bells hooks brings a vision of calm with soothing rhythmic text while Chris Raschka’s vibrant art adds compassion and humor, reminding readers that sometimes you just have to go inside and let it

Slide

Like a lot of the children’s books I end up reviewing here, I picked this one up at the library. I can’t remember if I was browsing the online catalog for children’s picture books or bell hooks, but when I saw the two intersect, I knew I had to check it out. There’s nothing quite like the exhilaration of getting your child into the things you love.

Once I had the book in my hands, I was a little worried. I mean, I could enjoy it by myself. If I wanted to do that, though, I could pick up something more adult oriented. She’s certainly written enough.

The imagery in the book can be scary. Our toddler seemed to have some of the same reservations as I did, but I read it out loud and it had an almost hypnotic draw. GRUMP GROAN GROWL is a book few words. But they’re powerful. And powerfully presented. The first six pages are just those three along with their accompanying paintings.

The images themselves are simple, brilliant, and entirely appropriate. They depict fear, frustration, and anger with ragged edges and bleeding colors. Chris Rashcka brings the words to life with bold lines and arresting color.

Our toddler was repeating the book back to me before the halfway point, exulting in phrases like, “All I am is wild.” And then the book performed its incredible magic. It’s as much about those negative emotions and letting them out as it is recognizing and controlling them. After whipping my child into a minor frenzy, it took a calming turn.

The pictures softened almost imperceptibly and the text became almost a how to for getting through those moments when our emotions overwhelm us. GRUMP GROAN GROWL had wound us up and brought us back down. Something great literature has the power to do.

Highest possible recommendation. Get your hands on this one if you can.

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