A grumpy, Grinch-like creature discovers that the love he tries to get rid of keeps coming back in this picture book.
Grumbler, a potato-shaped figure with a broken, polka-dot pot for a cap, lives alone in the dump. In a crabby mood, he kicks a can of tuna—right into the paws of a hungry cat. When the feline thanks him, a heart shape extends from her chest in wonderfully cartoonish fashion. A flying heart floats over to Grumbler. Irritated by the itchy love, Grumbler tries to give the heart to two squirrels. But the love multiplies and returns. Grumbler attempts to give the love to some bunnies and then to a whole pond of creatures. Grumbler thinks he’s finally escaped and returns to the dump. But when he sees that love has brought all the animals to visit him, he realizes maybe it isn’t so bad after all. Haughee (How I Met My Other, 2019, etc.) handles the story’s message with just the right amount of cranky humor to keep it from becoming too sweet. The vocabulary challenges are all fun-to-pronounce words that young readers will enjoy, and Veselinovic’s (Where Will You Go, Ricky Jo?, 2018, etc.) charming, kid-friendly digital illustrations, populated with affable forest denizens, should be a hit. Grumbler’s heart may not grow three sizes, but he’ll keep the Grinch in good company.
A clever and heartwarming tale starring a grouchy hero.
Rating: Five Stars
Grumbler, written by Arielle Haughee and illustrated by Marina Veselinovic, is a charming story about love. Grumbler, the nasty, rude main character, is a rotting potato with a broken bowl for a hat. He lives alone inside a trash heap. Animals who live in a nearby forest try to show love to Grumbler but Grumbler hates love. He thinks it feels tingly, itchy and terrible. But the love from the animals settles on different parts of Grumbler’s body. He can’t get rid of the love, so he goes to a pond and throws it at the animals. Then he goes back to the dump and gets in a slimy bathtub until he thinks all the love is gone. Before long, the animals of the forest come to visit him and surround him with more love. What will Grumbler do? Will he ever realize that every time he gives love away, more of it keeps coming back?
Grumbler is a delightful story by Arielle Haughee, and is inspired by Warren Buffett’s quote: “Love is a strange thing. You try to give it away and you get more back.” The author uses great descriptions to show how love makes the nasty Grumbler feel: “tingly, itchy and terrible.” As children hear the story, they will think of how love makes them feel. They will see how miserable and frustrated Grumbler feels when he tries to get rid of love by giving it away. The illustrator, Marina Veselinovic, does a great job of showing Grumbler’s mean eyes turning to kind eyes; his nastiness slowly turning to happiness. She gives the cute forest animals adorable expressions as they share love. A great, meaningful read for kids.