March 15, 2017

Good Morning, Grumple

Written by Victoria Allenby
Illustrated by Manon Gauthier
Pajama Press
24 pp.
Ages 2-4
March 2017

According to Victoria Allenby’s dedication, she has a couple of grumples in her life–a big one and a little one–and I suspect that, if you’ve been trying to rouse your kids during March break when they’d much rather sleep, you’ve got some grumples of your own.
A grumple, a grumple is hard to awaken.
It doesn’t like noises. It hates being shaken.
It loathes and despises a bright, cheery voice,
And big, shiny lights are a terrible choice. (pg. 5)
From Good Morning, Grumple 
by Victoria Allenby 
illus. by Manon Gauthier
In Good Morning, Grumple, a mother fox, who has obviously endured many a morning struggling to get a grumpy young one in rumpled bed clothes out of bed, attempts the near impossible feat with an established process of rhyming song and accompanying actions.  It starts with a soft singing of “Shh–Shh–Slow we go.  The sun is rising on tip-toe, tip-toe.” (pg. 9)  Nice and easy, but the grumple just burrows deeper into the linens, only feet and a paw clutching a stuffie visible.  That’s OK.  Mother knows the next step is getting a little closer and a little louder with “Shush–Shush–There’s no rush.  The sun is gold in the morning hush.” (pg. 10) Mother Fox may rely on the sun for her inspiration but the efforts are all hers, with tickles, kisses, hugs and a dance, all with louder affirmations until both mother and child are out the door, welcoming the new day and its promise for play.

Every household must have one or two grumples, and Victoria Allenby has contrived a playful way of rousing them to waking.  You may need to read the book several times, with your child, to establish the song, and I’m not sure of the melody, but little ones will delight in the role they get to play, even if it means ultimately getting out of bed.

Victoria Allenby has proven that she can write light and refreshing books for pre-readers and early readers (Nat the Cat Can Sleep Like That, Pajama Press, 2013; Timo’s Garden, Pajama Press, 2015; Timo’s Party, Pajama Press, 2016; Rhino Rumpus, Pajama Press, 2016) but now she’s bringing that novelty to helping parents parent, all without preaching about how to do it right.  I wonder if she even intended to provide a wake-up protocol for grumples or just share an engaging practice that might work for others.
From Good Morning, Grumple 
by Victoria Allenby 
illus. by Manon Gauthier
Manon Gauthier lends her trademark cut paper collage (see Elliot, Pajama Press, 2016, and All to World a Poem, Pajama Press, 2016) to Good Morning, Grumple, establishing evocative scenes with her artistry.  Colour is limited but effective, with the neutrality of a grumple atmosphere evident throughout.  No grumple would ever see much in the way of colour before deigning to open his/her eyes completely, and Manon Gauthier supports this premise wholeheartedly.  But Manon Gauthier refuses to keep things stark and uninspiring.  All indoor and outdoor scenes, before and after waking, are freckled with birds, flowers, and household furnishings and decorations that invite readers in.  Collage art has never been so expressive and atmospheric.

Enjoy the smaller and inviting format of Good Morning, Grumple with Pajama Press’ unique padded cover, rounded corners and heavy-duty paper that make it a pleasure to hold.  Let me know whether the premise works for your own little grumples but remember: it may take a few tries, and a little more sunshine than we’re seeing in March, for it to work.  Even if it doesn’t, you’ll enjoy a great read with your youngest ones and perhaps lead them to the self-discovery of their grumple status and ultimately to an appreciation of the efforts made on their behalf.

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