Why Curmudgeonly Characters Make Good Kids Book Characters
Ryan T. Higgins | The Children’s Book Review | September 26, 2016
I am not particularly grumpy. In fact, I’m rather a bumbling goofball. BUT there is something fun about stepping into the shoes of Bruce from time to time. Sometimes it’s fun to think like a grumpy old bear and I hope that the fun I have in writing about Bruce rubs off on others.
I personally think that curmudgeons make for great kids’ book characters. Everyone has some grump in them, but it’s generally socially unacceptable to let it all out in public. Seeing a grumpy character let out all their crotchety emotions can be very satisfying. When a kid can’t blow off steam in school or at the kitchen table, it can be a little therapeutic to watch a character grumble, growl, and roar across the pages of a book.
Grumpiness, under the right circumstances, can be fun to laugh at. Particularly when you’re able laugh at it from outside of the situation as a spectator. Being faced with a grumpy person (and even more so a grumpy bear) in real life can be uncomfortable, but reading about one gives you a chance to recognize the absurdity of it all from the safety of home.
I think “relatability” (which really should be a word!) is key to finding a character that kids can love reading about. All kids have light and dark sides to their thoughts and feelings. When a child sees a character who isn’t simply happy and bubbly all the time, it gives them someone that they can relate to in a different way. They can look at that character and say, “I get mad like that, too.” I think it’s important for kids to see those less-friendly sides of characters and to see that being a grump is okay sometimes.
A grumpy character is someone with flaws. Real people have flaws. Kids like real people…even if those real people are bears.
Written and Illustrated by Ryan T. Higgins
Publisher’s Synopsis: With four geese, three mice, and a very grumpy bear all crowded into one den, Bruce is ready for a new home in Ryan T. Higgins’ BRUCE’S BIG MOVE (Disney-Hyperion; On Sale September 26, 2017), the hilarious follow-up to Mother Bruce.
Mr. Bruce, our favorite curmudgeonly bear, shares his home with not only his geese, but rowdy mice besides! Fed up with their shenanigans, Bruce sets off to find a rodent-free household. But as usual, nothing goes quite according to plan. . .
A hilarious sequel for fans of the previous Bruce books, as well as a standalone discovery for new readers, Bruce’s next reluctant adventure is sure to keep kids and adults alike giggling from Ryan’s deftly incorporated, unexpected humor.
In Bruce’s Big Move, family sticks together, sometimes whether they like it or not. As in previous Bruce books, the story celebrates relationships and togetherness without ever dipping into the saccharine.
Ages 3-5 | Publisher: Disney-Hyperion | 2017 | ISBN-13: 9781368003544
About the Author
RYAN T. HIGGINS is an author and illustrator who likes the outdoors and cheese sandwiches. He is NOT a grumpy old black bear, but he DOES like making books about one—starting with the best-selling Mother Bruce, which received the E. B. White Read-Aloud Award and the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Honor. He lives in Maine with his wife and kids . . . and too many pets. Visit him online at ryanthiggins.com or on Twitter @RyanT_Higgins.
Ryan T. Higgins, author-illustrator of Bruce’s Big Move, wrote Why Curmudgeonly Characters Make Good Kids Book Characters. Discover more articles on The Children’s Book Review tagged with Bear Books, Emotions & Behavior, Picture Book, and Ryan T. Higgins.