cover image Grump Groan Growl

Grump Groan Growl

bell hooks, , illus. by Chris Raschka. . Hyperion, $16.99 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-0816-8

Hooks and Raschka (Be Boy Buzz ; Skin Again ) charge this temperamental book with few words but ample emotion. The alliterative title alone demands a loud delivery, and each of the three key words gets a noisy spread all to itself (“Grump-/ Groan-/ Growl/ Bad mood on the prowl”). Raschka, working in loose India ink over airy, multicolored watercolor wash, scrawls a short-legged, leonine monster and its alter ego, an angry curly-haired child. The creature recalls one of Sendak's Wild Things, albeit roughly sketched with a thick brush. A zigzag blue line of teeth superimposed across the glowering monster's dark mouth in several images implies a temporary sharpness, but not permanent antagonism. Similarly, hooks's words acknowledge how hard it is to avoid negativity (“Can't stand outside/ Can't hide”). At the conclusion, the words “Just go inside,” recommend a time-out for easing out of the mood. On the closing page, “Just let it slide,” the S of “slide” becomes a chair where the once-belligerent child lounges and his inner monster naps beneath (not gone, but relaxed). With its intensity and understanding, this bad-mood book rivals Jules Feiffer's I'm Not Bobby! and Molly Bang's When Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry... . Ages 3-up. (Apr.)