Phuc Tran

Pete Oswald

HarperCollins US, 2024

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99


It’s the last day at the construction site and Cranky the crane is feeling cranky. And he doesn’t want to talk about it. His friends Zippy, Wheezy, and Dump Chuck try to cheer him up. But you know what doesn’t help when you’re feeling cranky A lot of talking. Or people telling you to cheer up. 

So what will help? 

This book for young readers helps them understand and validate some of those big feelings that sometimes swamp them but which they can’t articulate yet, particularly those that seem to have negative connotations as though they are unnatural.  Being good friends, Zippy, Wheezy and Dump Chuck don’t like seeing their friend unhappy and try to change his mood, but when Cranky is happy, do they try to turn that emotion around?  It can be confusing for a little one and they soon learn that it’s apparently not OK to be angry or sad or whatever when, in fact, it is.  Such feelings are real, natural and valid and they will recognise them in Cranky and through talking with the adult they are sharing the book with, maybe be able to learn words to express their feelings and the reasons for them, as well as strategies to deal with them.

By using construction vehicles in this anthropomorphic manner, the author has enabled the young reader to examine and talk about emotions at arm’s length as well as start to realise the impact of their emotions on others around them and why friends want to help, even though they just want to be cranky for a while longer.  

There are any number of books in this vein available to our younger readers but given the levels of anxiety and depression that seem to be enveloping this age group, particularly as parents’ anxieties have an impact on them, it is a message that they cannot hear too many times, especially our boys who may believe that “real men” are bulletproof and not subject to such feelings.    Emotions are real, natural and valid and it’s normal to have them and healthy to express them, even if you’re a cranky crane on a construction site..  

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