Grumpy Monkey is not this dynamic duo’s debut picture book, but it is – dun dun dun – another author-illustrator collaboration by a husband and wife team! (Since I started looking, these have just come out of the woodworks.) Not to mention this New York Times Bestseller is simply BRILLIANT.
Okay. First, here’s the publisher’s description: “A hilarious picture book about dealing with unexplained feelings…and the danger in suppressing them! Jim the chimpanzee is in a terrible mood for no good reason. His friends can’t understand it—how can he be in a bad mood when it’s SUCH a beautiful day? They encourage him not to hunch, to smile, and to do things that make THEM happy. But Jim can’t take all the advice…and has a BIT of a meltdown. Could it be that he just needs a day to feel grumpy? Suzanne and Max Lang bring hilarity and levity to this very important lesson. This picture book is an excellent case study in the dangers of putting on a happy face and demonstrates to kids that they are allowed to feel their feelings (though they should be careful of hurting others in the process!).”
That’s actually a really great description, and I agree with all of it. Here’s what else I love about this book:
The character’s name. This book is about a monkey named Jim Panzee. I don’t know where they came up with that name but it’s absolute perfection. Enough said.
The first two sentences. They are KILLER. If you’re looking for mentor texts for great first lines, definitely add this book to your list. It’s simple, memorable (my three year old had it memorized on the second or third reading), and somehow manages to introduce the main character, his personality, his problem, and the tone of the book in just two sentences. Brilliant I tell you.
The illustrations. I picked up this book because the front cover illustration is irresistible, and the rest of the book did not disappoint. Jim’s facial expressions and body language are delightfully funny throughout. I also love the use of colors. There’s a great spread at the end where the two friends are sitting on a branch facing away from the reader and the lighting (plus Norman’s bandaged bottom) just says it all.
The dialogue. I love the funny back and forth between the sunny jungle animals and grumpy Jim, building to the climax where Jim shouts, “I’M NOT GRUMPY!” Then he beats his chest, and storms off. (My kids love acting out that part.)
Last but not least, it has a lovely message which is cleverly hidden in a delightfully funny package. The message is this: It’s okay to be grumpy. You’ll feel better soon enough.
And that makes my Momma heart happy.