CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 9 . . . . November 3, 2017
We all have days when we are stuck in a funk of a bad mood. The Bad Mood and the Stick by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Matthew Forsythe, shows young readers that bad moods can come and go, and that you never know what will happen to put you back in a good mood.
Snicket and Forsythe's bad mood is a colourful yet frowning anthropomorphic cloud. It floats around the world joining whoever is in a bad mood. Disappointed by not having any ice cream, a little girl named Curly is the first to have the bad mood. Curly pokes her brother with a stick and then the bad mood disappears. She tosses the stick aside at the instructions of her cross mother (who is now in a bad mood, herself, and carries the cloud in her arms!). The stick and the bad mood both travel with numerous creatures and people, including a raccoon, a cat, and an old man named Lou. Lou finds love with Mrs. Durham who owns the dry cleaners, and his bad mood disappears. Eventually a cocoon forms on the stick, and the ice cream man keeps it and releases the butterfly once it has hatched. While the narrative ends with the release of the butterfly, the book continues with illustrations depicting Curly finally getting her ice cream. But the scoops of ice cream fall off the cone, and the bad mood cloud is awaiting her around the corner.
The visual appeal of The Bad Mood and the Stick immediately makes you want to pick up the book and read. The cartoonish illustrations are colourful and add a significant amount of plot that is outside of the narrative itself. Some of the plot is a bit odd (which would be expected from Snicket), including a detailed story of the relationship between Lou and Mrs. Durham as well as the peculiar idea of an ice cream man having a cocoon stick in his storefront window. But, nevertheless, The Bad Mood and the Stick is a charming picture book, and it would be a good conversation starter for young children about moods and emotions.
Dr. Kristen Ferguson teaches literacy education at the Schulich School of Education at Nipissing University in North Bay.