Three Nasty Gnarlies

by Keith Graves


Keith Graves's Three Nasty Gnarlies

Book review by Sherri Trudgian

Ages 4-8


Beautiful and different!

Looking for a book that will tweak a little boy’s interest? Well, look no further! What boy could turn down a book with heroes named Grubby Gurgle, Stanky Stoo and Ooga – Mooga? Couple that with slime, purple funk, and banana peels and you’ve got a keeper.

In Keith Graves’ book Three Nasty Gnarlies, opera, flies and gnarlies come together in perfect harmony. Review continues.

Ooga-Mooga and Grubby Gurgle

Grubby, Stanky and Ooga-Mooga are three gnarlies who live together in a smelly garbage dump. They are more than content with their lives. They love to sing while bathing in yucky mud and brag of smelling like “pungent potpourri”.

Snooty Judy Butterfly, who is attracted to the dump by their music, decides to set the three gnarlies straight. “You Gnarlies are not beautiful. You exude a rank bouquet. You’re untidy, and your style Is oh so trés passé!”

Reality hits the three gnarlies when they realize that they might seem obnoxious to others. They beg Snooty Judy for her secret. How did she transform herself from a muddy worm to a beautiful butterfly? Did she use face cream, a perm, or special grease to get rid of all the germs? Using a chart Judy points to the three stages of her life. Once an ugly worm, she wrapped herself in silk and emerged as a gorgeous butterfly.

The three nasty gnarlies, trying to improve their cleanliness and appearance, decide to follow Judy’s advice. They can be seen dangling from a tree branch wrapped in bits of paper, cloth and string. Come spring they wriggle free with shouts of glee.

“Oh look at us! We’re butterflies! So dainty and petite. They flapped their arms and tried to fly. Then plopped down in a heap.”

The beauty treatment has failed and they begin to wonder if Judy was wrong. These three lovable characters not only come to the conclusion that they are different – they embrace it.

Ooga-Mooga pulls out a chart of her own pointing to the fact that, “Our beauty IS our gnarliness. We were pretty all along!”

Let’s face it. Everyone struggles with self-esteem at some point in their life. We are all different. Some may be beautiful, cultured butterflies but then some of us are stinky lovable gnarlies that like to play in the mud.

Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder.

Keith Graves’ tale is playfully tongue in cheek. His book is, “Based on an obscure operetta by the composer Funguso Smellagrossi.” It comes complete with a musical score which can be accompanied by piano or sung a capella. Children are encouraged to sing out loudly using their best opera voice.

Keith Graves does a terrific job illustrating his book. Snooty Judy’s retro glasses, yellow sweater, red purse and white boots contrast well with the wild eyed, toothless gnarlies. The drawings are so vivid you can almost smell the odors radiating off the pages.

I spent three weeks reading Three Nasty Gnarlies to my five year old grandson Isaac. To top it off there’s even a recipe for “Grubby’s Mud Puddle Surprise”. Isaac and I purchased the ingredients including peanut butter, gummie worms, chocolate chip cookies and pudding. We had great fun making it.

One caveat: It does serve THIRTEEN adults or ONE five year old boy.

More children's books that make them feel good about themselves!

Read more of Sherri's reviews.

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