Perhaps you remember that in 2018, the word "hangry" was added to the Oxford English Dictionary (O.E.D.), along with "mansplain," "swag," and other words that had proved indispensable. Jaya Saxena, in an article called "The Rise of 'Hangry': A Modern Word for a Timeless Feeling" explains that this term for "bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger" (as the O.E.D. puts it) has been around since at least the 1990s, peaking in popularity in the 2010s.
If you're around someone who's prone to be hangry, you know how handy a word it is. You recognize their fit of anger, quickly fix them a meal, and — voila! — they're not hangry any more.
Drew Brockington, known for his bestselling graphic-novel series CatStronauts, is the father of young twins and knows what it's like to see them go from civil to ballistic in a matter of moments when they need something to eat. He applied this hard-won knowledge to Hangry, his first children's book, which he both wrote and illustrated.
The plot of this book for 4 - 7 year olds is simple: A cute little dinosaur-like creature gets a hankering for a hot dog. When the hot-dog shop turns out to be closed, and even the pigeon won't share food with him, the creature's "City Food Guide," which he's been studying, does him no good. We see him in three quick frames transform into an enormous, furious monster, who now imperils the town — in a funny, exaggerated, "where's the superhero" kind of way, with people running from their cars as he picks up a street lamp to hurl and steps on a milk truck.
Brockington brings in all kinds of little touches that will delight children and caregivers, like the monster eating a truckload of broccoli "if I must" and staring down a policeman (tiny by comparison) while saying he's still not satisfied. The policeman can only reply, "Eeep!"
There's a kindness, perhaps a miracle even, toward the end of this book when a man with a sidewalk hot-dog cart says he has enough hot dogs for everyone (monster included). But the real value of this book, in addition to its charm, lies in the unforgettable images it gives to a feeling that's surprisingly prevalent once you start looking for it. Children inclined to be hangry can learn to recognize what's going on and, slowly perhaps, but eventually, learn to meet their needs before they reach monstrous proportions.
When a book can do something that powerful, it belongs on shelves everywhere. (And anyhow, it's just plain fun!)