B.C.R. Fegan, The Grumpface. Illustrated by D. Frongia
Published 2017 by TaleBlade Press, 34p
The Grumpface is a story that dares to change the classic definition of a fairy tale by bringing the characters and their adventures in modern times. As a parent I decided to expose my daughter to all kinds of stories, including the ones that explore the fear of the unknown, the significance of danger or the implications of challenges and loss in our personal development. It is amazing to see how strong and fair judgment children have and how natural they can choose the good in situations when the evil is another option.
Fairy tales are about choices, magic and spontaneity, which we all need in life. What Fegan did in his story was to keep the structure and patterns of a fairy tale but include contemporary elements.
A clumsy inventor, Dan, is in love with Bella, a flower seller but he is not confident enough to confess his love. One night when he goes to bed, Dan realizes that his chance might be bringing Bella a rose, the only flower she did not have in her garden.
The next morning Dan begins his journey in the Forest of Ho, hoping to find the rose. What he doesn’t know is that in the forest there lives a grumpy, old creature called the Grumpface. A little man, disfigured by his hostility and meanness, the Grumpface captures Dan and threatens to keep him there forever unless he completes three quests.
And soon you will learn that this life isn’t pleasant/ Whether you’re king or farmer or peasant,
There’s nothing in life that will give you a smile./ Get used to this forest, you’ll be here a while.
Unless, of course, a task you complete./ I’ll give three chances, or none if you cheat.
Dan thought of Bella “You don’t scare me./ I’ll finish a task and then I’ll go free.
You’re wrong,” Dan replied, “that in life you can’t grin./ I’ll prove that life’s pleasant; your task I shall win.
His inventions aren’t very helpful to Dan and he fails to complete the tasks. But his clumsiness and confidence please the Grumpface who bursts into a strong laughter, breaking his own spell and turning into a nice, old man with a smile on his face who will eventually show Dan where to find a rose for his love.
A twisted version of The Beauty and the Beast, the Grumpface speaks to all those who allow themselves to have bad days but find comfort in humour and optimism.