The Grump

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The Grump by Sarah Garson, book reviewThe story of “The Grump” begins early one morning; it is still dark and a little boy is asleep; his dog is at the foot of the bed. As a scary monster creeps into the room, they both hide under the covers with a torch. Bravely, they follow the monster along the landing, but it disappears. It has left an awful mess in the bathroom. They follow its trail of enormous footprints down the stairs and into the kitchen. It has eaten almost all the food.

Shadows appear at the kitchen door, but the boy is relieved to see that it is just his Mum and baby brother coming to see what all the noise is about. They hear growling noises in the sitting room; when they peep through the door, it turns out that it was only Dad, snoring under a duvet on the sofa. No scary monster after all. They all decide to snuggle up with him, Mum yawning as she holds a cup of tea. The dog and a cat settle down on top of the sofa too.

Sarah Garson’s “The Grump” received a Highly Commended award in the Macmillan Picture Book Prize of 2006, and it is easy to see why. The story is simple but intriguing, and the idea of a small boy and his dog being bold enough to seek out a scary monster will capture young children’s imagination. Being such a short story, it is particularly suitable for very young children.

“If you have a child who loves picture books featuring pets, Sarah Garson’s “The Grump” would be an ideal choice.”

The text is set in a particularly large font, and there are only one or two lines on most pages. When the rest of the family see the “Grump” hidden under the cover on the sofa, the font for “It was him!” is huge, and “The Grump!” is set in capitals. This is not, however, a book aimed at children who are learning to read, as it includes words such as “gigantic” and “dreadful”, which would be difficult to sound out phonetically. It is very much a picture book to read aloud, building up the tension gradually and enjoying the illustrations. A small group of three- to four-year-olds definitely enjoyed it, although they did ask me to read another book afterwards. I have also read it with a six-year-old boy who struggles with his reading, and he managed it well and did not feel that it was too childish for him.

The Grump” was also shortlisted for the Early Years Booktrust Awards in 2009, for best illustration. Sarah Garson illustrates her books herself. They are colourful in a natural, subtle way, sometimes showing large expanses of footprinted carpets, or in contrast a view through a keyhole. There is plenty to amuse, such as the dog disappearing into an overflowing linen basket in the messy bathroom. The kitchen scene is a riot of chocolate cake, boxes, flowers, tea and coffee pots. A hairband with rabbit ears rests on top of a chair, and a toy crocodile with bulging eyes peers out from a toy box,. Children can look out for stuffed rabbits and teddy bears as well as following what the dog and cat are up to while the little boy searches for the scary monster.

It might be best to avoid reading “The Grump” as a bedtime story with very young children, since it involves the idea of a scary monster creeping into a bedroom. Slightly older listeners, however, will probably be amused by the idea of finding Dad asleep in the lounge, after making a mess all over the house. If you have a child who loves picture books featuring pets, Sarah Garson’s “The Grump” would be an ideal choice. It is also an excellent story for families who enjoy books that don’t have a huge amount of text to wade through.

Other picture books by Sarah Garson include “Daydream Dan” and “One, Two, Cockatoo”.

The Grump by Sarah Garson
Paperback, 32 pages, Andersen, 2009

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Grump, The
by Sarah Garson

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Written by frangliz
frangliz

I have a degree in Fine Art but never actually worked in that field. After almost two years in Paris, I moved to Cairo and spent many years there teaching English language and literature in schools. I came back to the UK in 1999 and now work with young children. I also tutor students of all ages in French, English or Maths. I enjoy writing reviews in my spare time; another hobby of mine is photography. I have two sons who are now grown up, both working in IT.

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