Thursday, January 5, 2012

GRUMPY BIRD






By Jeremy Tankard

(Scholastic, 2007)

Oh, what does it mean when I can connect all too easily to a book called Grumpy Bird? (Let’s just pretend I am thinking about the screechy Steller’s jays in my backyard.)

To be sure, I am not the only one who has awoken in a bad mood just like Bird. First, we see him eyes closed in his nest. Even in slumber, he appears annoyed. (Perhaps , in his dream state, he realizes that the early birds have snatched up all the worms.) As the sun rises, Bird opens one eye. I’ve seen that kind of look. STAY AWAY!

Tankard’s text instantly amuses:
He was too grumpy to eat.
He was too grumpy to play.
In fact, he was too grumpy to fly.
“Looks like I’m walking today,” said Bird.


And yet, as Bird walks, the other animals do not stay away. They ask Bird what he is doing. Being a grumpy Bird, he curtly replies but for some reason the animals are undeterred. They follow Grumps. In time, all of them accomplish something quite remarkable.

This book is a great springboard for discussing different moods. Sure, we all want to be happy, but that is not always the reality. We need to acknowledge children’s other feelings. It is okay to be mad, grumpy, sad, anxious. It is how we deal with those feelings that matters.

Grumpy Bird is, of course, primarily entertainment. Bird is fictional kin with Oscar the Grouch and Statler and Waldorf (the two old guys among the Muppet posse). In the book, the animals all follow Bird. In life, it is better to give the sour individual some space to let him or her work through the mood and to then invite friends and family when ready to mix and mingle once more. After all, grumpiness can knock the happiness out of all who get sucked in.

I recommend this book but I also recommend giving Grumpy Birds some time to walk alone.

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