From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 2—King Grumpy, a stately bulldog, never smiles. Neither do his wife or his sons—Princes Grumpy the First, Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth. Hence, all of the residents of Grumpy Land (which looks suspiciously like a topsy-turvy version of Victorian London) have forgotten how to smile. The gloomy land is depicted in somber tones of eggplant and mustard, and long indigo shadows. Upon the birth of Prince Grumpy the Sixth, then, the townspeople are dismayed to see a strange expression on his face. Doctors examine him to no avail, and the terrible news spreads throughout the land. Then it gets worse: the strange expression appears on the king's face, and then on the queen's and the princes'. Before long, everyone is wearing it, and they must admit that it looks "well, rather nice!" The color palette brightens to include lighter grays, reds, and jaunty greens. Prince Grumpy the Sixth is soon known as Prince Smiley. The story ends with a twist, as he marries and has a son, who is born with a grumpy face. Luckily, that terrible expression turns out to be caused by gas. Rowe's signature illustrations are packed with fantastically dignified animals straight out of Lewis Carroll. They have the static quality of formal portraiture, combined with the sophistication of New Yorker cartoons. The wryly decorous tone of the narrative draws readers into this silly story, and combines with the irresistible illustrations to weave a perfectly ridiculous tale.—Rachael Vilmar, Eastern Shore Regional Library, Salisbury, MD
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Rowe's art is colorful and charming and includes quirky details; the all-animal cast is endearing, particularly their bulldog majesties. -- Kirkus Reviews
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