cover image Grumpy Grandpa

Grumpy Grandpa

Heather Henson. Atheneum Books, $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-1-4169-0811-1

The boy who narrates Henson's (The Book Woman) story shudders at his grandfather's gruff temper and false teeth, and draws rude caricatures of a cross-eyed, flushed bald man. ""Mom gets mad, but it's true,"" he insists. ""Grumpy Grandpa is always grumpy. And he's scary, too."" The boy and his parents visit Grandpa's farm, which is ""really quiet"" except for Grumpy Grandpa's snoring or yelling. And, each day, Grumpy Grandpa and his dog ""disappear"" in an old-fashioned pickup truck: ""You'd think the dog would need a break, but he sticks to Grumpy Grandpa like glue."" Although the narrative is told from the boy's perspective, the illustrations reveal more to the story. After the grandfather overhears his grandson's complaints, he takes the boy along to his getaway, his childhood fishing hole. MacDonald (Bye-bye, Crib) pictures a quaint and ruddy middle-American group, the women in skirts and the men in overalls (they even serve heaping plates of flapjacks). If the setting is anachronistic, the theme is perennial and wishful: misanthropes can forget ""what it was like to be little"" and moody relatives might be worth getting to know. Ages 4-8.