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‘Sad Mad Glad’ children’s book series celebrates 10th anniversary

By Ben Calwell, Metro Reporter
Chuck Stump, left, and Jim Strawn are celebrating the 10th anniversary of their “Sad Mad Glad” series of children’s books about character development. The two longtime friends visited Ruffner Elementary School in Charleston on April 25 for an interactive read-aloud to fourth-graders.
Jim Strawn signs copies of “The Sad Glad Mad Book: The Anatomy of Your Attitude” that he co-wrote with Chuck Stump. The two authors visited Ruffner Elementary on April 25, presenting copies to each fourth-grader.
Jim Strawn and Chuck Stump engage their young audience in a discussion about good character during a visit to Ruffner Elementary School. The authors are available for visits to area elementary schools.
The “Sad Mad Glad” series of books, written by Jim Strawn and Chuck Stump, have won several awards.

It was a rainy morning at Ruffner Elementary School in Charleston, but when the authors of an award-winning series of books about character development showed up, the mood lightened among the fourth-graders who had gathered to hear them.

Ten years ago while playing golf together, longtime friends Jim Strawn of Charleston and Chuck Stump of Hurricane came up with an idea for a series of children’s books that addressed the importance of good character.

The first of their “Sad Mad Glad” books, released in 2007, is titled “The Sad Mad Glad Book: The Anatomy of Your Attitude.” It went on to win a gold medal in the Moonbeam Awards for children’s books.

According to a press release, the books are described as motivational books that teach and inspire children of all ages to have positive attitudes. The books teach children about trust, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.

Since their first book, Strawn and Stump, through their Four Dolphins Press, have collaborated on three other ones: “Another Sad Mad Glad: The Anatomy of Your Attitude,” which won the IPPY Award as the Book of the Year by the Independent Publishing Association; “The Sad Mad Glad Christian: The Anatomy of Your Faith” and the “Sad Mad Glad Baby Book,” which also won a Moonbeam Gold Medal Award.

Although the “Sad Mad Glad” books are in their 10th year, “the concept is 15 years old,” Strawn said, prior to the April 25 presentation at Ruffner Elementary.

The idea was hatched on the golf course at Grandview State Park in 2002.

“We came up with this idea, because we were hitting so many bad golf shots,” he said.

The two friends began to talk about why they were doing poorly that day on the course, and they decided that it came down to attitude and “body idioms,” such as “keep your head up,” “lend a helping hand” and “have a heart of gold.”

As they talked and gave each other encouragement on the golf course that day, the idea for a book on character development geared toward children came to them.

“We both had the idea at about the same time,” Strawn said.

At the time, Strawn and Stump didn’t realize that character education had been mandated in kindergarten through 12th-grade classrooms in West Virginia.

“Our books dovetail nicely with character education. Basically, our books are motivational books for children that teach and inspire them how to have a positive attitude.”

The books are great for “interactive” reading between children and adults, “but children can pick them up and read them themselves.”

Stump remembered that day on the golf course, when the idea for the “Sad Mad Glad” books came about.

“All good things happen on a golf course,” Stump joked, as he and Strawn waited for their audience.

“The theme that day seemed to be body idioms -- ‘keep your chin up,’ ‘I’ve got your back’ and those kinds of things. The light bulb really did go off, and we thought it would be a great idea for a children’s book,” Stump said.

He said there are a lot of good children’s books on the market, but that they don’t necessarily teach a lesson.

“At this age, kids are learning, and the stories that they tell us, tell us that they’re listening all the time. These kids live in a different world than we did growing up. They have huge challenges, and we really feel for them,” he said.

At Ruffner Elementary, Stump and Strawn projected the pages of their illustrated book, “Sad Mad Glad: The Anatomy of Your Attitude” on the cafeteria wall as they read from it and engaged the students in conversation regarding the content.

Stump said he’s proud of the book series’ 10th anniversary. After the presentation at Ruffner Elementary, each fourth-grade student received a signed copy of a “Sad Mad Glad” book.

“It’s been a great run; some people even call it a ministry, and we’re not opposed to that. It’s a wholesome message,” he said.

Stump is founder of The Performance Group in Hurricane. As a professional speaker with more than 20 years of experience, he has traveled the country since 1995 sharing inspirational messages on peak performance, leadership and organizational development.

Strawn is director of marketing and community education with Highland Hospital and is active with 15 nonprofit organizations.

Four Dolphins Press has sold about 20,000 copies of the “Sad Mad Glad” series since it launched 10 years ago.

The authors want to continue traveling to area elementary schools spreading the message of positivity, character and citizenship.

For more information, send emails to or call 304-757-8125. The web address is


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