Written by: Elizabeth Laird, based on a story by Rumi
Illustrated by: Jenny Lucander
For ages: 4-7 years old
Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Family, Growing Up, Social-Emotional Growth.
Summary: Grobblechops opens with a little boy named Amir and his dad getting ready to go to bed. Amir is pretty worried that a monster might be hanging around, and Amir’s dad doe this bets to settle Amir’s fears by explaining all the reasons that a monster wouldn’t be interested in eating any member of their family. Some potential solutions involve shaking a frying pan, flapping an umbrella, and sitting around talking (because adults are too tired to fight, especially in the evenings).
Overall, the story is very humorous and will resonate with anyone who has tried to quell the fears of a tiny human in an attempt to make them go to sleep. The book also ends with a lovely message to get to know someone (or something!) before deciding that it’s scary or a threat. Grobblechops is a very sweet story, and we love how much movement is conveyed within the illustrations!
This book was sent to us by Tiny Owl for consideration in the Best Books of 2019 List, but all opinions and decision to review are our own.
About the Author & the Illustrator:
Elizabeth Laird “was born in New Zealand in 1943. My father was a ship’s surgeon from Scotland, and my mother’s forbears were all Scots too. They met after a great earthquake in 1933. I was the fourth of their five children. We all returned to live in Britain in 1945, and I grew up in South London.
My first big adventure was teaching in a school in Malaysia when I was eighteen. I went trekking in the jungle, and decided that an adventurous life was for me, even though I went down with typhoid and was bitten by a sea snake.
After I’d been to University (in Bristol) I got a job in Ethiopia, teaching English in Addis Ababa, the capital. I had too many adventures to recount. In the vacations, a friend and I would go off into the remote areas, hiring mules when there were no roads to travel on. I loved Ethiopia, its beautiful countryside and brave, stoical people.
After a spell at Edinburgh university, I worked for a summer in India. I had to travel by air from Mumbhai to Bhopal, and was horribly airsick. The man in the next seat was extremely kind to me. His name was David McDowall. I liked him at once, and we got married soon after. It was the best thing I ever did in my life.
David had been working in India, but was transferred to Iraq, so that’s where we began our married life. We visited the Marshes, and the Kurdish region. Some time later, after our first son, Angus, was born, we moved to Beirut, in Lebanon. A civil war was raging at the time. The fighting became so bad that eventually we were evacuated to Vienna, where William, our second son, was born.
We finally decided to take a great risk and see if we could earn our living as writers. We had luckily bought a house in London while we had been working abroad. We came home, settled down, and wrote. Being rather hard up, we took in bed and breakfast, and did various kinds of jobs to make ends meet, but our books began to sell well, and we have never looked back.
I went back to Ethiopia thirty years after I’d left, in 1996, and fell under that lovely country’s spell again. I set up a project with the British Council collecting folk stories from traditional story tellers, and made many journeys to the farthest corners of Ethiopia. I travelled extensively in Kenya too, in order to write the Wild Things series. Other projects have taken me to Palestine, Khazakhstan, Iran and Russia. These days, I tell myself that I’m too old for big adventures. I should spend my time sitting in my London study, snoozing by the fire, or pottering around in Edinburgh, where we spend part of our time. But if an invitation should flutter through the door, or an idea, or a mad, mad inspiration, I know I’ll be off again, just as soon as I’ve packed my bag.”
Jenny Lucander is a freelance illustrator based in Helsinki, Finland. From her website:
“Making art, making illustrations, is a way of communicating with the world. Depending on how I decide to portray our environment, the characters, their reactions and feelings in my children’s books, I communicate messages that either cement or shake the existing norms and stereotypes of our society. Having this kind of power thrills me, but at the same time I’m aware that the privilege this enables is accompanied by great responsibility. I am confronted with big questions every day. I feel that we have the obligation to stay critical and constantly work towards a better and more humane society. This is the most exiting part of being an artist.
I enjoy exploring the big questions we struggle with during childhood. Difficult feelings of identity and belonging, as well as joyful feelings of happiness, freedom and play. In creating my illustrations I try not to be too rigid, and instead to be more free and wild. A thin sensitive line characterizes my illustrations, and I tend to use many different materials in my collages. I seldom have a clear plan of what the outcome should look like. It feels like solving crosswords without definite answers, like trial and error. Sometimes the mistakes are the most beautiful part of the picture. Serendipity gives me wonderful kicks.”