What Are You So Grumpy About?
by Tom Lichtenheld


Tom Lichtenheld's What Are You So Grumpy About?

Children's book review by Steve Barancik

Ages 4-8


It's an age-old temptation. Your little one is stomping around with a sour look on his face. But you know how to make that sour look go away. Yours is the age-old solution. Tickling!

But Junior has told you he doesn't want to be tickled anymore. And your sister (the one without any kids) keeps sending you emails "proving" that tickling is "abuse."

Well, thank goodness for Tom Lichtenheld. With What Are You So Grumpy About? he set out to create the literary equivalent of tickling. And he succeeded!

Our little protagonist certainly has a grumpy look on his face. What put it there?

The book posits a number of different possibilities:

  • Fell in the toilet
  • Favorite clothes weren't clean
  • Had to eat grown-up cereal
  • Received cootie infection from sister
  • Gravy touched peas
  • Spent a gazillion hours at the Museum of Boringness

Or maybe it's that miles long chore list. Vacuuming the backyard certainly doesn't sound fun.

Frankly, it's hard to stay serious and frowny while reading all the silly possibilities.

Lichtenheld's huge, page-filling illustrations and in your face hand-drawn fonts make it even harder to stay grumpy.

There seem to be about twice as many disgruntled boys as girls in the illustrations, so perhaps the author is telling us that grumpatosis is more an illness suffered by little boys than girls. I'm not sure I could dispute that.

But, helpfully, the inside and back covers are filled with helpful illustrated suggestions of other grumpiness cures. Cures like:

  • Making faces
  • Coasting down a long hill
  • Discovering a new kind of bug, and of course
  • A good belch

In all, What Are You So Grumpy About? is a wonderfully upbeat take on staying upbeat. And if it keeps you from getting arrested for First Degree Tickling, all the better!

Read more of Steve's reviews.

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