oliveTor Freeman
(Brubaker, Ford & Friends)

Olive is having a bad day, and she is more than happy to share her bad mood with her poor unsuspecting friends who feel the brunt of her caustic mood and put-downs. But even her foul mood is lifted by an unscheduled stop at the sweet shop. When a cheered up Olive meets her friends again, she cannot understand at all what could have possibly put them in such a rotten mood …


Mood swings and being confused about one’s feelings is a daily fixture of a toddler’s life and Olive and the Bad Mood illustrates this perfectly. Tor Freeman’s funny characters help make light of this thorny subject, and the artwork is great at conveying moods, not only through the characters’ facial expressions and posture but also, for those little people too young to read expressions, the little dark cloud floating over the head of those feeling grumpy. Tor Freeman’s anthropomorphized characters are fun and endearing, and make this a less threatening tale and one that little people can really relate to, safely.


Possibly some parents might have an issue with a book that “glorifies” grumpiness (after all, Olive goes unpunished for being mean to her friends) and encourages sweets as an instant and successful cure,  but it would be a mistake to read the story so literally. Olive’s reaction to the sweets illustrates how volatile toddlers and preschoolers are when it comes to their moods. And even the most draconian carers sometimes give in (if it is not sweets, it might be chocolate, or crisps) in the name of a peaceful five minutes. As for the bad moods .. anyone who claims that their small child is never in a rotten mood for no reason is blatantly lying. Toddlers and pre-schoolers face a lot of changes, both physical and emotional, and mood swings are only just a natural formulation of this. They need assistance to make sense of their emotions, and picture books play a vital role in helping them along the way. Olive and the Bad Mood does exactly that, with plenty of fun thrown in.

If you are experience mood swings with toddlers, here are two other picture books well worth investigating:
* No! by Tracey Corderoy & Tim Warnes (my review)
* The Three Grumpies by Tamra Wight and Ross Collins


All illustrations © Tor Freeman

Source: review copy from publisher