Sunday, August 2, 2009

Grumpy Bird

Last week Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast (a must read children's book blog) did a column on Jeremy Tankard. His new book Boo Hoo Bird was released recently and they were talking about how wonderful the new book was. I liked the look of Tankard’s artwork, with its deep brushstrokes and bright colors. So when they mentioned his previous Bird book I had to go pick it up. Grumpy Bird has the same great colors, unique backgrounds, and fun characters. But it also has something else, a fun story.

The story follows Bird who wakes up grumpy. He’s too grumpy to eat or even to fly. So he decides to walk. As he’s grumpily walking he passes each of his forest friends who decide that walking would be fun. They don’t even mind Bird’s sarcastic and angry responses to them. They just keep walking along behind him. Finally Bird realizes what they are doing. He stops and the play games. Bird forgets that he is grumpy and everyone eventually has a good time. The story is simple, but the dialogue was surprising for a children’s book. Bird is not always nice and sometimes snaps at his friends. And I found that incredibly refreshing. Children will love the repetition of the animal’s question “what are you doing?” and will enjoy seeing what Birds response is.

If the words are fun, the images are just fantastic. Tankard mixes photographs, broad brush strokes, bright colors, and simplistic but adorable characters. Bird in all his grumpiness is very cute. The other animals are sweet looking and done with minimal lines. Raccoon is defined with his mask and ringed tail. Fox looked a little like a cat except he is red. But somehow the simple characters make everything that much sweeter. Even Bird. The backgrounds are some of the most unique I have ever seen. Tankard uses photographs for the far background with painted brush strokes over the top. Close items, like bushes or trees, are heavy ink and very simply done. On top of all this is a wash of color that is almost startling. Tankard uses oranges, yellows, greens, and browns for each of the pages and these are almost always bright. With the bright backgrounds, the red, blue, white, brown, and orange characters stand out well particularly since the characters are outlined in black. This kind of art is fantastic, producing sweetness and brightness for a grumpy subject. The mixed media is inspired and I’m truly in love with Tankard’s style.

This is an adorable book that any child would be sure to love. I found myself going back again and again to enjoy the artwork. I was constantly missing little details that I would find later. A brilliant book, both in subject and artwork. I look forward to checking out Boo Hoo Bird as soon as possible. Grumpy Bird left me anything but grumpy.


  1. I too love Grumpy Bird but really, the ultimate critics are my kids (8 and 5) who practiced reading with this book right from the beginning.

    We love Jeremy Tankard!

  2. What a wonderful book to practice reading on! And great that you are encouraging them to read for fun. I'm guessing it was a good read-aloud book as well.