No one does stepped pages like Eric Carle, whose iconic The Very Hungry Caterpillar is undoubtedly the ‘Holey Grail’ of picturebook success.
In The Grouchy Ladybug, Carle’s signature stepped pages once again take center stage to great visual and tactile effect, by intelligently playing with size (the illustrations and text get bigger with every turn of the page) and offering a peek at the veritable rainbow of collage spreads to come. The story itself, as one can surmise from the little clock faces (not to mention, the corresponding position of the sun) at the top right-hand corner of every page, is somewhat related to time. Specifically, a grouchy ladybird picking a fight with a different creature on every hour, but who is too cowardly to actually act on his bravado after he realises that he’ll probably be on the losing end of the brawl anyway!
I’m not entirely sure if there’s a moral behind the tale, but the hilariously dramatic way in which the antagonistic creature gets his just desserts — at 5:45pm, to be thematically exact — is pure GOLD.