Do you have memories of Christmas at Granny’s house? Did you look forward to your visit with her? Did you see her other times of the year?
Our maternal grandmother lived with us, so I learned a lot from her, particularly about cooking and reading. She was a good cook and prodigious reader. She was head librarian at our tiny library where she read every single book from picture book on up. Generally she read two to three books a day. The parents trusted her to guide their children’s reading selections whether the book was for younger or older people. But she also was the cook in our family. My sister and I had a miniature electric stove that our uncle sent to us from Germany. Granny would sit me on the counter in our kitchen and show me how to cook whatever she was cooking for dinner. Though she did make the worst fruitcake imaginable. Fond memories.
My other grandmother was a quiet, sad woman, at least after the death of her son, my father, during WWII. But pictures of her when she was a teen, in addition to stories about her riding whatever polo pony she was training back and forth to the rural Arkansas school where she was the teacher, show a different side. An impish, raven-haired beauty, with a gleam in her eye that hinted at her mischievous nature. She was a writer and an interesting person, but preferred visiting with her four boisterous, red-headed grandchildren one or two at a time. My sister named her “Grandmaury,” because we already called our other grandmother “Granny.” Grandmaury was not very much of a cook.
I loved them both and cherish what they taught me. I’m sure you feel the same about yours. Were your grandmothers gentle souls who let you have your way? Or did they rule the roost with a hard demeanor? Do you have a special memory of something you did together or of something they taught you?
The two books I’m presenting in this blog are, as you may have guessed, about grandmothers and their place in children’s lives. Hope you enjoy them. Have a Merry Christmas or Happy Chanukah, or joyous holiday, whatever your religion.
What Will You Be, Grandma?
Illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark
Lily asks what her grandmother will be when she grows up. Grandma says most people think she’s already grown up, but Lily feels Grandma has much growing up to do. Maybe she could go to schools and tell everybody to play instead of doing lessons. Or perhaps she could fly around the world on her newly grown wings and teach people to be kind to their pets. Grandma likes that idea. Maybe she could an artist and paint rainbows or butterflies or possibly tigers on children’s faces. Grandma could heal injured children with a magic kiss as she did when Lily fell. How about being a gardener who grows Brussels sprouts that taste like strawberry ice cream or chocolate cake cabbage? She could give out lollipops so kids can save their allowances. Lily thinks Grandma would be good as a birthday-party entertainer or an old fairy with a magic room-cleaning wand or do children’s homework so they always get a star. But it turns out what Grandma is best at is being Grandma to her darling grandchild, Lily. What a sweet story this is and with charming illustrations. Bound to be a comfort to any little girl and her Grandma.
BIBLIO: 2011 (orig. 2011,) Templar Books/Candlewick Press, Ages 4 to 8, $15.99.
REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan
FORMAT: Picture Book
This second book delightfully focuses on all grandmothers.
All about Grandmas
Illustrated by Janice Nadeau
Grandmothers are special no matter whether they’re called Granny or Ouma (Afrikaans) or Jaddah (Arabic) or Babushka (Russian) or Abuela (Spanish) or Seanmhathair (Gaelic.) They can play games. They can read. They can cuddle or tickle or serve homemade preserves. Grandmas are sometimes so busy working they hardly have time for anything, except maybe hugs. Some of them dress up fancy and some like to fix or mend things. Though their faces may be wrinkly, their laps are comfy and their eyes show their love. Some people only have pretend grandmamas, but that’s alright too. Love is love. Grandmothers come in different shapes and sizes; each one is special. This sweet story is a nice homage to grandmothers and the illustrations are cute. A picky point is that the rhythm and rhyme are off occasionally. It’s nice to read the names of what grandmothers are called in different cultures and languages. Children will enjoy cuddling on Granny’s soft lap and listening to her read this book.
BIBLIO: 2012, Dial Books for Young Readers/Penguin Young Readers Group/Penguin Group, Ages 4 to 6, $16.99.
REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan
FORMAT: Picture Book