To wash away a stubborn case of the grumps, skip this and pick up Claire Messer’s Grumpy Pants (2016) instead.


A disgruntled duck brings a dark cloud upon her friends.

Duck is grumpy, the pond is dry, and there’s nobody to play with. A little gray cloud forms above her head, matching her mood. Though friends suggest activities to smooth her ruffled feathers, she rudely turns up her bill at digging holes with Dog or munching laundry with Goat, and she “just [doesn’t] do cockadoodling.” With each snub and each animal’s retort (including Pig’s out-of-place “honked” oink), Duck’s cloud swells until it’s “BLACK” and “GINORMOUS” and everybody’s grumpy, demonstrating the cumulative effect of taking anger out on others. Just as it threatens to blot out the sun forever, it bursts with a “SPLATT PLITTER PLATT” into “MILLIONS OF BIG SHINY WET SPLASHY RAINDROPS,” conveniently remedying Duck’s initial complaint. The animals burst into a waddling, barking, cockadoodling rendition of “Singin’ in the Rain,” and Duck exits under a double-page rainbow, her rudeness apparently forgotten. The author’s storm metaphor is simultaneously clichéd and unclear. Though the exuberant downpour may symbolize that “GLOOM cloud[s]” pass, its literal gratification of Duck’s griping may imply that bad moods are good reasons to be unkind—a message caregivers won’t appreciate. Horácek’s bold, textured mixed-media illustrations pop, but his animated critters can’t save the text’s muddled moral.

To wash away a stubborn case of the grumps, skip this and pick up Claire Messer’s Grumpy Pants (2016) instead. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0424-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.


Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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