Grumpy Monkey

Book review by
Carrie Kingsley, Common Sense Media
Grumpy Monkey Book Poster Image
Warm, funny lesson about a monkey’s bad mood.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

There's a review of body parts and emotions, and the repetition of words like "grumpy," "happy," and "should" throughout the story is helpful for emerging readers.

Positive Messages

Emotions are valid, and sometimes the best way to change a bad mood is to sit with it and recognize that it's there. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jim has helpful friends with good intentions, and one who helps him just by letting him be grumpy.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Suzanne Lang's Grumpy Monkey (the first in the Monkey series) can help children with their emotions simply by showing that it's often good to allow the emotions to exist. When Jim Panzee wakes up in a bad mood and tries everything to change his outlook, it isn't until he sits with his grumpiness that it begins to pass. Illustrator Max Lang's images bring warmth and fun to the page, and are just as much a part of the message for kids learning to manage their emotions. This kind of emotional awareness is a nice reminder for adults who might be reading this book aloud, and word repetition will help emerging readers become more fluent.

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What's the story?

In GRUMPY MONKEY, young Jim Panzee wakes up in a bad mood for no reason and can't seem to shake it. His friends tell him it's a wonderful day and try to help with suggestions to smile, un-hunch his shoulders, raise his eyebrows, dance, walk, eat, splash, and more, but nothing works. Jim storms off and finds comfort in his friend Norman, who, recognizing that the day is also a wonderful day to be grumpy, lets Jim sit next to him -- and sit with his grumpiness -- until it starts to pass.

Is it any good?

There's something quite refreshing about a character who's surrounded by love and support on a sunny day being given permission to sit and be in a bad mood. This Grumpy Monkey named Jim Panzee didn't need to make up a reason for his bad mood while his friends tried to help or pretend that he was better; he was able to be himself. The idea that acknowledging the bad mood and letting it pass without trying to fix it can help young readers feel more in control of their emotions, and gives adults another way to help kids in bad moods. The illustrations are lovely, full of fun and warmth, and the page with Norman and Jim sitting on a branch together is particularly heartfelt.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why Grumpy Monkey keeps trying to improve his mood. Why did everyone think it was important to help him not be grumpy?

  • How do you behave when you feel sad or grumpy with no real reason?

  • Which people in your life can you be grumpy with, and which ones do you feel like you can’t be grumpy with? Why?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love stories of friendship and empathy

Themes & Topics

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