The Great Blue Grump.
Jill Creighton. Illustrated by Kitty Macaulay.
Kindergarten - grade 2 / Ages 5 - 7.
What is the great blue grump? He's not a bird, like the bald eagle. He's not a snake. He stands up straight like a grizzly bear but he can crawl if he wants. He never gets much sleep. That's why he's grumpy.
With The Great Blue Grump, Jill Creighton adds another successful picture book text to her growing list of titles. As with Maybe a Monster, and One Day There Was Nothing to Do, Creighton creates a blend of imagination and domestic stability. In Maybe, mother is a gentle mediator when a marauding baby crawls into the play area, while in One Day, she participates, wholeheartedly, in helping the day with nothing to do become a heyday. In this third picture book, a question and answer format is set and as the pattern of the dialogue proceeds, the characteristics of the Great Blue Grump emerge. We learn what he looks like, what sounds he can make, and what he likes and doesn't like to eat. After a considerable build-up, all with an overlay of smiles and a sense of fun, we meet him, and "he's the best dad in the world." One quibble is that the phrasing seems awkward when Creighton changes to negative answers such as a "he will never eat you for dinner like a tiger would." The bulk of the answers, which are simple, short and positive, work best with the younger children for whom the book is primarily intended.
Illustrations by Kitty Macaulay provide a wonderful, whimsical element to the text of the book. Macaulay's work first appeared in another Annick publication, I Feel Orange Today, written by Patricia Godwin. She displays a light hand, with a loose, free interpretation. In Orange, details abound and tiny vignettes of the fantastical join the pages. Birds in sleeping bags read by fire-fly light and a raft of ant babies in a nutshell stroller cross the page. Macaulay applies this same sense of fun to the illustrations for The Great Blue Grump. She accurately displays all of the creatures listed, from a ring-tailed lemur to a three-toed sloth, but interprets them with an overlay of comfort. Mother frilled lizard claps proudly for her dancing children, baby frog sports diapers and an eyelet cap, the grizzly bear wears in-line skates and elbow guards. As with Creighton, while Macaulay has great fun with the fantasy eiement, her illustrations are grounded in real life. Her children represent a racial mix and the budding bike rider has both training wheels and a safety helmet. Children will have fun anticipating the text and following the illustrations to their conclusion, but they will also enjoy rnany subsequent browsings, searching out their favourite scenes and characters on Macaulay's bright pages.
The Great Blue Grump is a wonderful addition to lap-side reading for preschoolers. The gentle mystery of identity will appeal to young reader/listeners and the detail and fun of Macaulay's illustrations will definitely extend the pleasure for repeated readings.
Jennifer Johnson works as a children's librarian in Ottawa, Ontario.
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Copyright © 1997 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
The Manitoba Library Association
TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR THIS ISSUE - APRIL 25, 1997.
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