cover image The Unbudgeable Curmudgeon

The Unbudgeable Curmudgeon

Matthew Burgess, illus. by Fiona Woodcock. Knopf, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-55662-3

In this picture book by Burgess (Enormous Smallness: A Story of E.E. Cummings), what looks at first like a shock-headed monster proves to be an angry sibling. The glowering creature has a head full of flaming red fur that matches his furry feet, and he’s trapped his sister’s knapsack under his chair. “How do you budge/ an unbudgeable curmudgeon,/ who really refuses to budge?” the text asks. She attempts bribery, considers violence: “It wouldn’t be right/ to bludgeon the curmudgeon/ but maybe he deserves one humongous nudge.” After a push-and-pull between them knocks her to the floor, the bad mood passes from brother to sister. Her red hair fluffs up in into a raging orange orb. Will she go full curmudgeon? “It can be tricky/ to get the gunk off/ the funkiest funks,” the narrator says as the brother considers his options. Playing a favorite song helps; for now, there’s peace. Burgess’s clever wordplay stays loose, reveling in the funny sounds of language without hewing to a rigid structure. Woodcock (Look) uses rubber stamps, stencils, and blow pens to add motion and energy to sweet spreads. After reading aloud, listeners might discover their own ways to unbudge curmudgeons. Ages 4–8. [em]Author’s agent: Elena Giovinazzo, Pippin Properties. Illustrator’s agent: Alli Brydon, Bright USA. (Mar.) [/em]