Mr. Grumpy’s Motor Car

Mr GumpyToday in the K-5/First Grade co-op class, I read the story Mr. Grumpy’s Motor Car by John Burningham. The funny thing was, his name is actually Mr. GUMPY.

I’m not quite sure how I misread it, but from the time I first read the story at home until I read it out loud to the class, I called the main character “Mr. Grumpy.” During the story, I mentioned to the children that I couldn’t figure out why he was called Mr. Grumpy. In most of the illustrations he was smiling — an unusual response to a difficult car ride with a cow, a goat, a chicken, a sheep, a dog, a cat, a rabbit, a boy, and a girl. I would certainly be grumpy after such a ride, but this character wasn’t at all.

I finished the first story and began a second that I had found at the library entitled Mr. Gumpy’s Outing. Of course, I called him Mr. Grumpy, even though he was still smiling as all the other characters piled into his boat. About halfway through that story, I turned the book around to show them something on the cover. It was then one of the children called out (a K-5/First Grader, mind you), “His name is Mr. GUMPY!”

He had read the name on the cover, and he had read it correctly!  Was I ever embarrassed!  All I could do was laugh, and the kids laughed too. At least it made more sense. He was still an incredibly patient man, but now he had a name that suited him better.

I talked with another teacher from the class who covers the last hour. She usually re-reads the story to the children. As she began reading about Mr. Gumpy, though, some of the children asked her to call him Mr. Grumpy instead. 🙂

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