Book Review: Tom Lichtenheld’s What are YOU So Grumpy About?

Posted June 10, 2017 by Kathy Davie in Children's

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Tom Lichtenheld’s What are YOU So Grumpy About?

What are YOU So Grumpy About?


Tom Lichtenheld

picture book that was published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on April 1, 2003 and has 32 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Illustrator: Tom Lichtenheld

A standalone picture book for two- to six-year-old readers, technically, and revolving around the “horrors” of childhood in a series of cartoons.

My Take

Dang, Lichtenheld starts off being funny with the endpapers! You could probably spend a couple of bedtime story-reading sessions just exploring the squares and talking about whether the activities would make you happy or grumpy or turn you from grumpy into happy, lol.

What are YOU So Grumpy About? explores all the horrors of being a kid in a series of cartoons that will make you LAUGH-OUT-LOUD. Yep, this was too funny to be reduced to a mere acronym!

“I look like Dad when he goes golfing.”

That list of chores could well inspire the kids to create more of their own ideas of truly horrible, disgusting ones. There’s just something about “vacuum backyard” that makes me laugh even more. Oh, oh, oh, and the truly “popular” grump-making action: a sibling, ack, touching you!! A LOT of details to laugh about in this one, ROFL.

The one of a kid getting, ahem, lost really resonates for me. I hated having to kiss auntie or uncle…they either smelled funny or were so bristly!

I do love the richness of Lichtenfeld’s graphics with his use of a combination of colored pencil, ink, gouache, and watercolor. Absolutely amazing.

Oh, yeah, this is one for kids…and parents. Absolute realism treated with great wit and humor…excuse me while I run, very quickly, off to the loo!

The Story

There are lots of reasons to be a grump. And even more to laugh about, for it’s hard to be giggly and grumpy at the same time.

The Cover and Title

The cover is not about the contrast, that’s for sure. It has a side radial gradient of light rust to darker rust (it looks like a gouache base with an intricate use of penciled crosshatch to achieve the shading). What really grabs your eye is that huge face in profile, chin in hands, a black brow arched in grumpiness with a shock of red hair on his head, as an unhappy boy looks on at a cheery little bluebird sitting on a twig and asking What are YOU So Grumpy About?, which is in black and a font that looks all twitchy in a scripty, serify, angular way. The author’s name is in white and all caps, spanning the entire width of the bottom.