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Grobblechops has a warm, tongue-in-cheek approach

Senior lecturer in children’s literature Mathew Tobin has written a fab review of Grobblechops! Find out what he said below.

Grobblechops is another wonderful addition to the Tiny Owl catalogue and fourth in the Tales by Rumi series. It marks a joyful collaboration between the highly-acclaimed children’s writer, Elizabeth Laird and Finnish illustrator, Jenny Lucander (whose subtle nod to the Moomins throughout it well-received). The story is based upon one of Rumi’s tales; a thirteenth-century Persian poet, philosopher and scholar whose teachings and writings are known throughout the world.

With a warm, tongue-in-cheek approach, Grobblechops explores the ‘monster under the bed’ story. Amir isn’t ready for bed yet: his fear of the dark is exacerbated by his fear of what lies under his bed and he’ll do all that he can to avoid sleeping alone in his bedroom. Luckily for Amir, he has a quick-witted, patient and empathetic father dad who takes the time to assure his son that for every problem there is a solution. As Amir shares his worries about the monster, his father retorts with a series of witty, and well-considered resolutions that gradually ask Amir to look beneath the surface of a stranger and try to stand in their shoes (or clawed feet when referring to Grobblechops!)

Laird’s narrative is well-paced and embraces that sense of traditional tale with its fable-like cumulative build up to a wise and warm finale in which our protagonist learns a valuable lesson about life and living. For a traditional tale, Laird is sparse with the dialogue leaving great creative space for Lucander to explore Amir’s rich imaginings of Grobblechops and the monster’s grotesquely-wonderful parents. Full of feathers and fangs and fur, Grobblechops is like something that has crawled out of The Dark Crystal set. Using a mixed-media collage approach which is then finished in photoshop, Lucander uses of perspective and positioning to heighten the chaotic mirroring of Amir’s anxiety.

Both my boys adored this book. Each time I read it with them, they grow closer to Grobblechops and his parents, delighting in his expressions and actions. It’s a lovely bedtime read which not only assures the reader but also leaves us reflecting upon how quick we are to judge others and the how empathy and understanding are key.

  • Read an interview with author Elizabeth Laird: Grobblechops wasn’t hard to write!
  • Read a blog: Grobblechops carries the most important human values: tolerance and acceptance!
  • Read a review by Books for Keeps: Grobblechops is a clever variation on the fear of monsters

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