Children's Bookshelf: The Bad Mood and the Stick

Jan 1, 2018

The Bad Mood and the Stick, written by Lemony Snicket and illustrated by Matthew Forsythe is a clever picture book about how a bad mood, under the right conditions, can jump from one person to another.

As the story begins a little girl by the name of Curly is in a very bad mood because her Mom passed by the ice cream store while they were out walking without getting she and her younger brother some ice cream. The bad mood appears as a cloud over Curly’s head. Being in such a bad mood Curly picks up a stick and pokes her brother with it. Mom reprimands her and tells her to apologize! This puts Mom in a bad mood as the tricky little cloud moves from over Curly’s head to under Mom’s arm.

Next, a raccoon picks up the stick and runs toward a man called Lou causing him to slip in a muddy puddle. Many people laugh including Mom allowing her to abandon her bad mood and giving the bad mood the opportunity to hitch a ride with Lou who is upset because his pants are dirty. This transfer of the bad mood continues throughout the story and forms the foundation for this cautionary tale.

Fortunately, Bert, the man who runs the ice cream store, finds the stick. Now there is a cocoon on it. Burt admires it and decides to place it in his window for all to see. As a good story would have it, Curly, her brother and Mom notice the stick in the window on their way back and stop to get some ice cream. There are no bad moods in sight.

The tasty lemon, lime and strawberry colored illustrations are full of humorous details. One delicious double page spread shows how one bad mood visits 18 people and animals! An anteater is chasing ants, three fish are swimming toward a worm and a man is trying to catch his dog, to name just a few.

The Bad Mood and the Stick, written by the popular Lemony Snicket and illustrated by Matthew Forsythe is a timeless tale for 5-8 year olds about how easy it is to catch a bad mood (Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers/Hachette Book Group), 2017.

Questions and activities for 'The Bad Mood and the Stick'

Chances are you have been in a bad mood. Think back at your most memorable or most recent bad mood. What caused it? When did it happen? How did it make you feel? How did you get rid of this bad mood? Draw a picture of your face when you had been taken over by this bad mood. Have fun!

The last two illustrations show Curly having dropped her triple scoop ice cream cone on the ground and the bad mood lurking around the next corner. Think about this situation and write a caption for each picture. Give the bad mood a name and let us hear what Curly might say and do.

As a visual literacy exercise, study the double- page story sequence showing figures chasing or moving toward other figures with a bad mood over some of their heads. Animals, insects and people are included. Who is likely to give the fish a bad mood? Why is the roller skater upset? Why is the man chasing his dog?  Do you think the man will catch his dog? Why didn’t the cat catch the mouse? Why is the baby crying? Where is the worm in relation to the baby? What counties could the fisherman, policeman and baker originally come from? (Look at the details, clothing, patterns, colors and head gear).