Warning: “Flying or sailing in umbrellas is dangerous.” However, this message only applies if you are a Purple Grumblie and you’re trying to make it to Volcano Island. In Mike Marsh’s children's book series, The Purple Grumblies, the Grumblies themselves do not heed the author’s advice.
Purple Grumblies are a group of strange creatures who live on Grumblie Island. If you follow the series, you will learn that the Grumblies live a rather carefree life. That is until their nemesis, Percy, tries to eat them up. In the first book aptly titled, Percy the Dreaded Sea-Monster, the Grumblies narrowly escape being turned into Grumblie stew by sailing away to Volcano Island in upside down umbrellas. However, that only lands them in more trouble.
In book two, the clan of bumbling, grumpy critters attempt to set a trap for the sea monster but find that it’s not as easy as they had envisioned. Percy, having learned from his first fumble at trying to catch the Grumblies, equips himself with a bevy of head gear designed to protect him from swallowing what could only be described as sea monster kryptonite: volcano ash. By book three, a new character is introduced to the clan and the Grumblies learn that their previous trap for Percy did not work. While celebrating what they believe to be victory, they learn that Percy is back and angrier than before. As they scramble to find a hiding place out of Percy’s clutch, they receive a little help from their unusual guest.
Most endearing with this series is the personal connection the author has with the story. What began as a bedtime story to his children, later morphed into a series of books now featuring more than ten titles. Illustrator Priti Jain does a keen job in her artistic interpretation and created artwork that children can appreciate. Characters are vividly portrayed through her illustrations in ways that are vibrant, cheerful, and at times appear to pop off the pages. Consistent throughout the story line are the constant follies of the Grumblies. At times it’s very amusing and you want to cheer them on; at other times, you probably would wish that Percy just gobble them up. Although the stories are probably too text heavy for emergent readers, more fluent readers who are not quite ready for chapter books might find this series amusing and entertaining.