One day Bird wakes up grumpy. So grumpy, in fact, that he decides he’s not even going to fly. Instead, he’ll walk. As he sullenly plods along, he comes across several animals, including Raccoon, Beaver, Fox, and Rabbit. They all cheerfully say hello, and ask what he’s doing. Bird responds grumpily, even a little rudely. The animals ignore his bad temper and enthusiastically join the walk. Pretty soon Bird is so happy playing an impromptu game of follow-the-leader that he forgets all about being grumpy.
The illustrations and text rocket this book from a solid, but fairly standard children’s story to a captivating picture book destined to be read again and again. When this book is displayed with it’s cover facing out, I have yet to see a child or parent able to walk past without grabbing it off the shelf. Author/illustrator Jeremy Tankard gets the expression of determined grumpiness exactly right. Every inch of Bird’s body language clearly expresses his displeasure with the world at large. The pictures are wonderful, done with combinations of thick, heavy lines and bright, eye-popping colors. Everything about the visuals screams at children to look and fall in love.
The text itself is fun too. Unlike some picture books with fantastic art and only pedestrian text, this book delivers on the prose front as well. Tankard manages to use a repetitive format with a versatility I wish all picture book authors possessed. While the actions and setup of each exchange is similar, the differences in Bird’s response are hilariously unique. It’s a particular joy to read the book aloud, with increasing snarkiness and irritation. Absolutely a winner.