cover image Cranky


Phuc Tran, illus. by Pete Oswald. HarperCollins, $19.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-0632-5628-6

Yellow crane truck Cranky is having a very bad day and doesn’t want to talk about it. The character also wishes the other vehicles on the bridge construction project would stop being so solicitous (“You know what doesn’t help when you’re feeling cranky? People telling you to cheer up”). Cranky doesn’t even celebrate placing the last piece of the bridge, and responds to concerned colleagues that “I don’t want anyone to fix it and I don’t want anyone to make me happy. And asking me what’s wrong makes me feel like it’s not okay for me to be cranky!” After the vehicles give Cranky a little space, the crane gradually regains composure and is warmly welcomed to the wrap party. “Thanks for telling us how you feel. That’s the only way we can know,” a cement mixer offers. Animation-style drawings by Oswald (Sleepy Sheepy), both sympathetic and funny about Cranky’s dark mood, prove a sprightly accompaniment to punny text by Tran (Sigh, Gone, for adults); together, they show how the language of empathy and “self-of-steam” can be wonderfully regulating for anyone in a funk. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Sarah Levitt, Aevitas Creative Management. Illustrator’s agent: Kirsten Hall, Catbird Productions. (Feb.)