Monday, December 28, 2009

REVIEW: Grump, Groan, Growl

hooks, b.  (2008).  Grump, Groan, Growl.  New York:  Hyperion Books for Children.


Appetizer:  A boy is in a bad mood that turns him into a prowling lion until he can deal with his emotions.

With very few words, this picture book strikes at the heart of a key emotion for young readers:  Anger, a sensation that can turn toddlers (and many 40-year-olds) into a wild animal of tantrum-throwing, roaring, prowling proportions.

I like that this metaphor for anger is shown through the child appearing lion-like (although, some parents and teachers might argue that the change is less metaphorical and more a literal transformation into an animal).

If one accepts the metaphorical implications, this is a great early way to expose young children to the idea of metaphor and representation (without necessarily using those terms, of course).

The book also attempts to share some ways of dealing with anger, including to "go inside"  and to "let those feelings be."

Chris Raschka's illustrations were done in is his usual style, with rough lines that make the pictures look as though they could have been completed by a child.  (And a few times I had to stare at the images for a few moments to try to make out what they were.)

Dinner Conversation:


"Bad mood on the prowl"

"Just let them pass"

To Go with the Meal:

This is a good book to use to discuss emotions and methods for children to calm down when they're struggling to control a tantrum.  Although some kids may have trouble initially understanding what it means to "go inside, let it slide, let them pass," a teacher could guide students to use these words or similar ones as a mantra when they're upset and could also introduce calming flowing hand gestures to accompany the phrases.

Since part of the fun of this book is the sounds of "grump," "groan" and "growl" a teacher could encourage a student to read a loud those words.  A teacher might also ask students what else lions might do when they're upset.  (I'd fully expect students to give the answer, "Roar") so a teacher could encourage students to work on their own roars and they can also learn to make that sound when they're frustrated or angry.

Tasty Rating:  !!!

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