Grumpy Pants

Written and illustrated by Claire Messer
32 pages  •  Published 2016 (Albert Whitman & Company)
Book cover
Recommended Age Range: Preschool through 1st grade.
Publisher's Summary: Have you ever had a grumpy day and not known why? Penguin is having a grumpy day like that. No matter what he does, he just can’t shake it! Sometimes the only thing left to do is wash the grumpy day away and start over.
Book cover

Dr. Annie's Takeaways

Recommended for: This is a great read for a grumpy day. It destigmatizes feeling grumpy, and in a silly way, helps a child to see how Penguin’s self-soothing (primarily centered around getting undressed and taking a bath) sets him up to have a less grumpy day tomorrow.
Would a child like it? Young children will giggle at Penguin’s belief that his clothing is the cause of his grumpiness, and of course, it’s funny seeing Penguin look a bit self-conscious about being naked (even though all penguins are naked!). It’s also a sweet, soothing book that works well as a bedtime story.
Evidence-Based Practices: Self-soothing
Tone: Compassionate, soothing, a bit silly
Story Quality: This is a very sweet story that normalizes a grumpy day and provides a pathway to tomorrow being better. It’s subtle and simple–it’s really just a story about a penguin taking a bath. But it captures big feelings and presents an effective soothing ritual for bad days.
Illustrations: Pretty, understated linoleum prints in soft colors. The old-fashioned technique feels fresh rather than dated.
Representation: Penguin uses he/him pronouns. He wears human clothes (overalls, boots) and lives in a human world (with bathtubs, pajamas, and bedrooms). He is pictured as an adult penguin, but he will be relatable to many children–he enjoys playing with a rubber ducky in the bath, making a bubble beard, drinking hot chocolate, and snuggling with his teddy in bed.
Psychological Practices: This simple story destigmatizes a bad mood and models a self-soothing routine to set a child up for a better day tomorrow. It is particularly relevant to parents who follow the “just add water” parenting strategy (i.e., parents whose kids are soothed by taking a bath, drinking water, playing in water). Penguin is in a bad mood, and he “didn’t know why, and he didn’t care.” He comes home and bit by bit removes his clothes (grumpy boots, grumpy socks, grumpy overalls, the eponymous grumpy underpants), hoping that this would help his bad mood, but by the time he is naked (cue giggles), he is still grumpy. He takes a deep breath and dives into a bathtub. He plays around and eventually starts to feel better. After his bath, he puts on his favorite pajamas, drinks some hot chocolate, reads a book, and gets in bed with his teddy. As he falls asleep, “he knew that tomorrow would be a good day because all of the grumpiness had been washed away.” Penguin’s routine is a great way to end a bad day (with some added love from a caregiver, of course).
Concerns: None.

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