When Moontrug isn’t writing about gypsies and wildcats, star jumping on top of mountains and trying on animal onesies, she is blogging about children’s books. Mostly it’s middle grade, usually 8-12 years, but this week she was sent two picture book gems worth a pre-Christmas shout out: Goram & Ghyston, The Bristol Giants by Oliver Rigby and Tom Bonson, and The Grumpy Teddy by Greg Dobbins and Hannah Rees.
Moontrug was instantly won over by Goram & Ghyston, The Bristol Giants because their story centres around the city she went to university in. Prevailing memories from Moontrug’s time there involve:
- joining the Breakdancing Society but quitting after the first session
- co-hosting a radio show so early in the morning no one listened to it
- discovering it’s possible to eat Pot Noodles every day for a month and not die
- standing on the Clifton Suspension Bridge looking over the Avon Gorge
And it is perhaps the last of these memories that really stands out – and which was brought back so clearly by Oliver Rigby’s picture book. I mean, a gorge as massive as the Avon Gorge being dug away by men with diggers and cranes? Um, no. It HAD to be built by giants. And Goram and Ghyston are some giants. They can make rivers, lakes and mountains with their massive arms – and they even threw the moon up into the sky! Moontrug loved Goram’s beautifully illustrated pet dragon, Digby (despite the explosion of fiery bogeys) and the challenge Princess Avona sets the giants has a true fairytale magic about it.
Moontrug loved Goram and Ghyston’s eagerness to please the princess: ‘Can I catch you a dinosaur?’ ‘Can I catch you a whale?’ If only men these days knew those kind of one-liners – dating would be a whole lot easier… And Moontrug was left genuinely sad at the thought of why people believe the Avon Gorge fills up with water. The Bristol Giants is a gorgeous tale – but surely there’s another book on the way with an ending like that? Pleeeeeease…
Moontrug has had a teddy for as long as she can remember. He went everywhere with her when she was a child – and he maaaaaaaaaay have smuggled himself into Moontrug’s suitcase for her honeymoon last year. But shhhhhhhhhh, don’t tell. So when The Grumpy Teddy arrived through her letterbox, Moontrug was delighted. But Greg Dobbin’s teddy is no charmer – you won’t catch him mucking in on the Teddy Bear’s Picnic. NO. The Grumpy Teddy is so spectacularly grumpy he outgrumps Eeyore and Puddlglum… And the charming rhymes of the story only underpin how cross he is.
Even though other animals like Rabbit, Horse and Dog try to jolly him along, The Grumpy Teddy is steadfast in his grumpiness and insists on storming through the countryside in a mood. His face has a hilariously foul-tempered grimace about it and his words are equally bad-tempered. Moontrug hoped that by the end of the book the other animals might have cheered him up but it seems The Grumpy Teddy almost delights in his moods. Maybe with Christmas on the way, The Grumpy Teddy will flash us all a quick little grin?