A book entitled The Gloomster caught my attention as I was walking along the literature section (DDC 800s) in the library. Based on a poem originally in German by Ludwig Bechstein and translated into English by Julia Donaldson, the book can be finished within five minutes. The pictures were drawn by Axel Scheffler and they inject humour into the depressing text, which was why I spent more than five minutes with the book. Here is kind of how the poem starts (“kind of” because this is the second page):


gloomster_1_wShortly after this verse comes the next complaint:

Everything turns out wrong.

That’s why, the whole day long,

I feel so gloomy.

I was so tickled by this because I can see myself and everyone else reflected in Mr. Gloomster. If only we could laugh at ourselves when we get caught in situations that make us complain; I think we don’t realise how ridiculously negative we can be when we get frustrated by things that are not within our control. Just look at Mr. Gloomster’s face here!

gloomster_2_wHe goes on complaining about the weather, which is what everybody does at times.

gloomster_3_wAnd finally at the end of the day, he decides to wallow in self-pity, retreating into the darkness.

gloomster_4_wThis poem reminds me of what a friend said some time ago when I was troubled by trifles: “You are drowning in a glass of water!” The image that came to my mind made me laugh and those negative feelings disappeared eventually.

I think this wry poem would not have had the same effect on me if not for the appealing illustrations. Axel Scheffler is best known for his drawings of The Gruffalo, a children’s book that is another of his collaborations with Julia Donaldson. That is why I was surprised to see a book with his drawings in the adult section. I was curious to know if he did drawings for other adult books and further investigation showed that he also illustrated a version for T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, a book that can be found in both the adult and children’s sections in the Public Libraries.

practical cats_wIf all these pictures failed to make you smile, try checking out these titles on humour that are available in the Public Libraries: