Title: Grumpy duck
Author: Joyce Dunbar
Illustrator: Petr Horáček
Publisher: Walker books
Genre: Children’s picture book
Book format: Paperback
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Description:  Duck is in a grump!  The pond is dry, and even worse a little grey cloud is following her around.  What can Duck’s friends do to cheer her up?

This exuberant and joyful farmyard tale will brighten everyone’s day.

*Free copy provided by publisher for review…

Review:   This is a fun picture book with a lovely story and a potentially deeper message than first appears. ‘Grumpy Duck’ is around A4ish in size and is filled with thick glossy pages of lots of colourful illustrations and some text. The story is a simple one, Duck is feeling grumpy because she has nobody to play with so she visits all the farmyard animals one by one who say she can play with them. But Duck doesn’t want to do the things they are doing and the more grumpy she gets, the bigger a grey cloud hovering above her gets.

Grumpy Duck book page image one
©The Strawberry Post

The story is a repetitive one which kids will enjoy as Duck visits each animal in turn and leaves them feeling sad and grumpy too. Every time Duck shares her grumpy mood with another animal it makes the grey cloud in the sky, above her head, grow bigger too, until it is so big it makes all the animals are grumpy and sad. I’m going to give a spoiler to the ending her: in the end Duck’s mood finally lifts when the rain cloud bursts, and all the animals feel better too. Although the story can be read at face value there is definitely a deeper and more subtle message which can be picked up and shared with kids too.

The text in the story is fun to read with certain words being extra large, emphasising the ever larger size of the cloud above Duck’s head. The illustrations are what really make this book fun to look at though. For me, I’ve always enjoyed Petr Horáček’s illustrations, but the way Duck is drawn just really shows how moody and grumpy she is! I love the way all the animals look but there’s something about Duck and the way she stands, that neck, and the expression on her face that just shows her mood perfectly. The illustrations are all very colourful too and I love the last couple of pages where the colours really brighten up.

Grumpy Duck book page image two
©The Strawberry Post

There is a fun story in this book which just focuses on Duck’s grumpy mood and how it lifts at the end. There’s also a fun nod to the song ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ as the animals all sing their version of it. I do like this book on it’s own, the story is fun, repetitive in a good way, and I really enjoyed the illustrations. However there’s a deeper message which can be talked about with kids too. I’ve seen some online reviews that I think miss the point of this as they see the way that Duck is acting is fine because her mood magically lifts when making the other animals all sad. But I think those reviews miss the point that the book is showing how a bad mood can make others feel bad too. Kids will probably need this explained to them but they can learn that it’s not nice to speak the way that Duck does to others, because it can make them sad too. It also shows how a bad mood can go away on it’s own and Duck (and kids) can find always something fun to do that they all enjoy, together. Whether this message is too subtle for some readers to get tough, I don’t know, but it’s certainly what I’ve picked up from having a look at this book.

Overall this is a lovely book with a fun story and some even more fun illustrations. Whether adults choose to discuss anything further with kids is up to them, but it’s a good book which does show how bad moods can go away.


Do you like the illustrations in this book?  What about books that tackle subjects like emotions in a subtle way?  Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂