Beneath the Trees by creator Dav is a series of four books for young readers originally published in France starting in 2019. Each book coincides with a season. The Autumn of Mister Grumpf is the first volume.
Mister Grumpf, the badger, is trying to clean his leaves before winter sets in… but he keeps getting distracted. First, Squirrel and his rowdy kids go by, trying to stock up on nuts before it gets too much colder. Hedgehog wants to share one more worm before hibernating for the season. And young Mouse needs help with his kite stuck in a tree. With all the help he’s giving others, can he finish his own task before the snow starts?
I can sum this graphic novel up in one word: ADORABLE. I loved every single minute of reading it, and I’m far older than the intended young readers audience 😉 There is a great message here in doing everything you can to help others and being neighborly, but not at the expense of letting others take advantage of you. Dialogue is succinct and easy to understand for young readers.
The author and artist, Dav, states that traditional hand-drawn Disney films were the biggest inspiration for this series. It’s immediately obvious even if you have no further context. The backgrounds and characters are round and cute, with exaggerated features. Colors are bright and vivid and extra crisp, just as you would find on a sunny autumn day. My favorite part was actually inside the front and back covers of the book. Printed here are Dav’s sketches that could have been taken from behind the scenes of a Disney film.
Everyone kids and up will enjoy this graphic novel about a grumpy yet helpful badger. Older readers will especially appreciate the traditional Disney inspiration. Looking forward to the next installment.
Dav. Beneath the Trees: The Autumn of Mister Grumpf. 2021.