The Unbudgeable Curmudgeon

Knopf. Mar. 2019. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399556623.
PreS-Gr 1–Burgess’s exploration of sibling grumpiness is playful and charming, while simultaneously demonstrating the perfect introduction to an advanced emotional concept and bonus vocabulary word. The word curmudgeon is defined on the endpapers as “A bad tempered, difficult, cranky person; a grouch.” Woodcock’s illustrations capture the shifting moods of a sister and brother through colorful reds and blues against a pale cream background. The artwork created using rubber stamps, stencils, and children’s blow pens gives the appearance of movement and shifting perspectives in dreamy soft focus. The emotions loom large when big angry puffy red hair, claws, and sharp teeth take over the space on the page. The text includes strategies and suggestions to readers for how to approach the curmudgeon. While not always constructive, the trial-and-error approach is both entertaining and probably realistic. “…you could distract the curmudgeon by changing the subject…Look! A Chihuahua on roller skates!” Ultimately, as with any sibling relationship, the mercurial beastly moments seem to pass from brother to sister and back again. A long-suffering gray cat appears in most of the pages and adds humor through droll facial expressions and eye-rolling responses to the sibling shenanigans.
VERDICT A solid purchase for larger collections. Readers will delight in the whimsical artwork and the comic but realistic relationship between siblings.

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