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Review of Grump by Janet Wong

by Becky Laney

Wong, Janet. 2001. Grump. Illustrated by John Wallace. New York: Margaret McElderry Books. ISBN: 0-689-83485-3.

Grump paints a realistic portrait of a mother and her child. Even from looking at the endpapers, the reader can tell that this is one active – and probably sticky – child. On the dedication page, the reader gets yet another preview of this tired and grumpy mother who is busily trying to clean up all the mess her child is making! However, the magic of the book is not the illustrations – as humorous as they are – but in the flowing rhythmic text of the book.

Look how tired this Mommy is

tired and frumpy

grouchy chumpy

Oh, what a grump! (1).

This magical rhythm of words continues throughout the text as the baby begins to make even more messes. The baby dumps applesauce and ketchup gravy on its head, and after the mom is through cleaning up the day’s messes, she decides it is naptime for them both. But the baby is not quite so ready for a nap. But the mother reaffirms it saying Baby’s going to take a nap now; Baby’s going to take a nap now; Baby’s going to take a nap now; Take a nap now, Little lump. The baby does not fall asleep until the mother does; he then curls up in his mother’s lap. Once the mother takes her nap, there is no more grump.

Wong’s book definitely can be categorized as both a predictable and a participation picture book. Once readers are familiar with the flow and rhythm of the text, they will soon join in the refrains. An example of a refrain would be Look at baby; smart, good Baby; Happy Baby. This refrain is repeated several times throughout the book beginning with the applesauce and gravy incident. The book is predictable because it features repeated language patterns, story patterns, and other familiar sequences (Tunnell and Jacobs, 157). The book is a participation book because children – or readers of all ages – will want to join in reading aloud the text. The text itself is memorable and a good example of the music in language.

Wallace’s illustrations would fall into the cartoon style of illustration. They match the text perfectly, but they are not Caldecott material! The pictures are bright and cheerful. Wallace did an excellent job of creating the expressions of both mother and child in this book. For example, the mother’s hair becomes more and more frazzled looking as the day progresses! Grump is definitely a great read!

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