Eric Carle’s book, The Grouchy Ladybug, tells the story of an ill-tempered ladybug who doesn’t like to share and challenges 13 other animals to a fight.  The animals range in strength and size from ladybug to whale  but the grouchy ladybug always backs down because it says the animals are “not big enough”.   After the grouchy  ladybug is knocked across sea and land by the whale, it is reborn and actually says thank you when offered some aphids for dinner.  The simple story line offers opportunities for children to learn about 12 animals, acceptable behavior, time, size, and shape.

The message of the story seems to be that bad behavior is not successful but perhaps it teaches the value of standing up to a bully, or something else???  Regardless of the message the positive characteristics are many.   Each of the  animals encountered by the grouchy ladybug is larger than the previous animal and is presented on a different sized page starting with the smallest and continuing to the largest. The animals encountered are from air, land and see, and represent both the exotic and familiar.   The last page featuring the whale is cut to the shape of the whale’s tale, a delightful surprise in the text.   As the story progresses the time of day is mentioned, the sun is shown at a different level on the page, and a small clock at the top of the page records the time so adult readers can teach about time and its relationship to the sun’s position.  The text is written with a rhythmic cadence created by the repetition of the grouchy ladybug’s words as it meets each new animal.  By the time you get to the whale the ladybug’s refrain can be annoying but, on the other hand, very little ones will love the repeated refrains. Although written for children ages 1-4, some of the initial text might be too long for very young listeners but can easily be abbreviated by the reader without damaging the story. The bright colored illustrations done in a collage technique using hand-painted papers create fun filled pages that enhance the text.  The Grouch Ladybug has been popular for over 20 years and will probably continue to be so for the beutiful illustrations and the variety of lessons it can teach.

To buy The Grouchy Ladybug from click here.



By Karen