I loved Cranky Pants from the moment I saw the illustrations because they reminded me so much of my childhood in the 70s with things like Star Wars toys and weeble wobbles. The story teaches a wonderful lesson about overcoming all the things that happen in a day to make us cranky and reminds us how a few happy moments can turn a bad day around. I love reading this to my kids when they are having a bad day.
In Michael Parker’s new novel, Joel Dunn Jr. tells the story of how he did everything he could to save his family after his mother left and his father’s tenuous hold on sanity unraveled. On a journey from the town of Trent, North Carolina, to the coast, Joel and his little brother Tank thread their way back to their mother, fueled by potato chips, Coke, and the soundtrack of the powerful soul music that their daddy taught them to love. Always keeping the faith that their mother is waiting for them, they move from one kindly stranger to another on their odyssey, Joel ever certain they are being guided to her door: “I was being passed from person to person,” he says, “on my way back into her wide open window.”
Caught between the endless idealism of childhood and the sobering tests of adulthood, Joel and Tank bravely negotiate their way through a landscape of love and beauty, abandonment and betrayal, to learn that the one sure thing is often right by your side.