Monday, February 24, 2014
Grumpy Goat by Brett Helquist
Rating: 5 stars
Sunny Acres farm is a happy, lovely place. "Until that grumpy goat moves in." He stomps and frowns around, kicking dirt up everywhere he goes. He doesn't share. He doesn't play. He doesn't say please and thank you. He doesn't like animals very much so he moves out to a grassy knoll (not The Grassy Knoll) and flops himself to the ground in one big huuuumphhh!
When he does, he comes nose-to-petal with a dandelion. And he kind of likes that dandelion. That sunny dandelion causes or inspires his heart to grow a little warmer--with love, of course. While trying NOT to gather much attention, he starts to take care of the dandelion. While trying NOT to make a big deal about it, some of the other animals (despite his grumpy disposition) start to help him take care of that dandelion. A munch here, a munch there...they start to water and weed around the dandelion (kinda funny if you think about it).
And Grumpy Goat is getting content! He is beginning to realize he has a friend or two! And then: that dandelion changes...and becomes a fluffy ball of seeds and...even the little reader on your lap can guess what's going to happen next...blows away.
Grumpy Goat is no longer grumpy. He's MAD! And then he's SAD.
Luckily, now he has friends, and they try and cheer him. Through the inevitable change of the seasons and passage of time, they sit beside him in his sadness and disappointment. And they do make him a little happier, they take his mind off of his flowers, until...one day...he realizes...that his dandelion has grown back. And there are more of them! A whole field of them! And now he has friends with whom he can share the view.
Here's what I love about this book:
Who doesn't love the idea of a grumpy, prickly character having a big soft spot for sweet things such as flowers? We all do. Even kids. And it's a great lesson for them to be kind to those who are grumpy and prickly around them because there's sweetness and goodness and I-want-to-belong-ness inside of everyone.
Grumpy Goat and all of his less grumpy buddies love dandelions! Which are basically weeds! So here we are celebrating a weed, holding it up as beautiful just like we would a peony. I can relate--as I'm sure you can, too: my kids love dandelions, and take time and care to pick bouquets of them before any lawn mower gets to them. Seeing beauty in that which most people don't--what a nice habit to pick up as a child.
The flowers come back. He's so sad that they go...but with patience (what is that thing called patience? I sure struggle with it!) and time (the inevitable passing of the seasons), the dandelion grows back. In fact, it multiplies. What a great message.
The story is fantastic, but the bright, full, gorgeous illustrations of these loveable characters are top-notch. The sun and the dandelion pop out whenever they appear in the picture, and the characters are expression-filled and totally lovable. You've got to see them to believe them--so go get this book!
Loved the book, Brett Helquist! (And all those drawing lessons in sketches on your blog.)