BOOK REVIEW: Grumbelina lightens the mood in parenthood

27 Aug 2020

By Theresia Titus

Perth mother and author of Grumbelina shared her writing process with The Record. Photo: Supplied.

Inspired by her experience in raising her now four-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Esther Krogdahl wrote Grumbelina, a children storybook published by Hachette Australia on 14 July.

Illustrated by Aleksandra Szmidt, the book tells a story of Hazel Spratt, an agreeable, patient and obedient child, who had a behaviour change as she turned three-and-a-half.

Her parents suddenly found her to be grumpy: “so disgruntled yet small, with a list of complaints that could cover a wall”.

Having written Grumbelina in one weekend, Mrs Krogdhal said the story poured out after a particularly challenging week with her then three-year-old daughter.

“I have always loved rhyming stories, and so I gave it my best shot. After my first or second draft, I sent the story to a few friends that also had young children to get their feedback,” she said.

“It was all very positive, so after a few tweaks here and there, I decided to submit it to publishers.”

Delivered humorously, Mrs Krogdahl wrote the book as a way for parents to connect with their children and find a bright side to the challenges parenthood can offer.

Grumbelina by Esther Krogdahl, illustrated by Aleksandra Szmidt. Photo: Supplied.

“When I wrote Grumbelina, my daughter was going through that phase where she made constant, unreasonable and often hilarious demands of her father and me. We often found ourselves secretly chuckling at her expense, and this inspired me to write the story and add some humour for parents,” Mrs Krogdahl uttered.

“It was my way of looking on the bright side and having a laugh when raising my ‘three-nager’ [three-year-old teenager] was trying, [as well as] a way to reach out to other parents by giving them a knowing nod and acknowledging that parenting is a tough gig sometimes.

“The book was also my way of telling parents, we are all in the same boat and ‘I feel for you’,” she continued.

Working as a Software Product owner and dealt with video games and the digital world, Mrs Krogdahl has always had a lifelong dream to be a published author.

“I have written some other books – a three-part series of supernatural suspense novel called Eternally Ruthless, which I self-published,” Mrs Krogdhal mentioned.

“Although it did not pay the bills, it was a great learning experience and gave me a thirst and passion for writing.

“I did not think [I would be an author of children book], but after having a child, the inspiration could not be ignored,” she added.

She hopes Grumbelina helps parents find the joy in parenthood and laugh a little whilst reading the book.

“Sometimes you need to have a chuckle at the situation – so you do not cry about it. Parenting can be challenging, but big emotions in little ones are normal,” Mrs Krogdahl said.

“These emotions and outbursts should be considered with love and kindness, for the child and yourself.

“There is no malice in it and if we take some deep breaths and grin through it, this chaotic time will soon pass and bonds will be strengthened as a result,” she concluded.