Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Bridging Generations with Grandmothers and Grandfathers August 10 for 10 ##pb10for10

It's always a pleasure to gather books around a common theme.  That's one of the joys in participating in the annual Picture Book 10 for 10.  This year is a ten-year celebration by the creators, Mandy Robeck and Cathy Mere.  By following the link attached to Cathy Mere's name, you can join by posting your list according to the given directions.  All participants and those who garner ideas from the lists are grateful for the work of the originators, Mandy and Cathy.

At the beginning of the past eight years, I generated a list of alphabet books from my personal collection. In 2013 I shifted toward the best dog books.  My sweet Xena choose those titles from my collection numbering more than three hundred.  That year I used an application called Learni.st to host the choices.  This can now only be accessed by using the app rather than the website.  If you use the app Learni.st and search under Xena, the book list, August Ten for Ten Xena's Favorite Dog Books, will appear. Sharing my life now with a new canine companion, Mulan, might be a good time to update that list.  (Note to self for an upcoming year)

In the subsequent years, I made lists of books on counting and numbers, bedtime, sleep and sweet dreams, robots as main characters, friendship and bees. For my 2019 topic I've chosen books about grandmothers and grandfathers.  There is something when unsettling times present themselves to take comfort in those who've weathered many storms.  Their wisdom is a solid foundation on which to place our feet.  Rarely do I stick to the exact number ten for this list.  I usually sneak in one or two extra titles.  This year is no exception.

1.  Baking Day at Grandma's (Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), August 14, 2014) written by Anika Denise with illustrations by Christopher Denise

It's baking day!
It's baking day!
It's baking day at Grandma's!

Three bear children happily traipse through the snow to their grandmother's home.  Anticipation whispers promises in the air.  Dressed from head to toe in hats, coats, mittens, scarves and boots they pull their sled from a cottage to a cabin, past the pond and up and down hills.  Grandma Bear is ready and waiting for their arrival.  A crackling fire gets them warm on the outside as quickly as grandmother's greeting warms their hearts. 

Utensils and ingredients are gathered.  Aprons are donned.  A recipe is read. Can't reach the table?  Then stand on a chair to blend everything together.  You can even sneak a taste.

Make sure you have everything on hand to bake Grandma Rosie's Chocolate Cake.  I know readers and listeners will hardly be able to wait to cook and taste after reading this title.  This book is pure one hundred percent comfort.  What a treat it is!  The recipe is on the last page above the publication information.

2.   Nana In The City (Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, September 2, 2014) written and illustrated by Lauren Castillo

I went to stay with Nana at her new apartment in the city.

This story is about a first visit to the city for a little boy.  What's even more unbelievable to him is that his nana is living here now.  Right away the grandson makes two thoughts very clear to readers.  He loves his grandmother but not so much the city.  There is too much activity in the city.  There is too much noise in the city.  There is too much frightening stuff in the city.

After a subway ride and walking down the streets surrounded by tall buildings, the boy is certain this cannot possibly be a good home for his nana.  Regardless of her assurances, he struggles with sleep his first night there.  When he finally drifts off, Nana begins working on her special gift.

This book is, in a word, . . . marvelous.  It could be a cozy one-on-one bedtime story or as a read aloud to a group sparking conversations about grandparents and being brave.  I'm pretty sure every single reader has a special article of clothing they feel is magical.  I can already hear the stories being exchanged.  Be sure to share this as often as possible.  It's not only a classic gem but a Caldecott Honor winner.

3.  A Morning with Grandpa (Lee & Low Books Inc., May 2, 2016) written by Sylvia Liu with illustrations by Christina Forshay

Mei Mei watched Grandpa dance slowly among the flowers in the garden.  He moved like a giant bird stalking through a marsh.

This book gives readers a peek at shared experiences across the generations. Wisdom and patience celebrate with curiosity and exuberance.  Mei Mei's grandfather is practicing tai chi.  The form he is making is called White Crane Spreading Its Wings.  He goes on to explain to Mei Mei that tai chi is a style of martial arts.

When Gong Gong (grandfather) slowly moves through another form inviting Mei Mei to try, she looks more like a hopping frog than a graceful weed grazing the sand in a sea. In reply to her query asking him how she moves, he does not criticize but offers helpful hints.  Her breathing techniques resemble gusts more than gentle puffs.

You might want to have books on tai chi and yoga handy after reading title. The attempts by both to enjoy the preferred meditative exercise of the other are heartwarming; welcoming readers to reflect on them and the building of relationships from one generation to the next.  At the close of the book Sylvia Liu has descriptions of each pose and Christina Forshay includes thumbnails sketches.  On the closing page Sylvia Liu lists eight sources about tai chi and yoga.

4.  Grandmother Thorn (Ripple Grove Press, August 29, 2017), written by Katey Howes with illustrations by Rebecca Hahn

lived in the very first house
on the very straight road
to Shizuka Village.  

This original tale addresses a desire for flawlessness.  Day after day this woman worked in her gardens creating a visual masterpiece.  Everything had a place and Grandmother Thorn made sure it remained.  She tirelessly raked her paths in swirls, imitating the flow of water in a silent stream.

Grandmother Thorn valued peace and quiet and a supreme sense of order in her garden.  If it was disturbed, you could hear her voice rise in anger.  The only person never to receive rebuke from her was her elderly friend, Ojiisan.

This is a quiet but powerful look at how we should welcome another viewpoint of "perfection".  It also reminds us we should never stop learning, regardless of our age. This is enchanting with a timeless quality to the story and in the exquisite pictures.

5.  Drawn Together (Disney Hyperion, June 5, 2018) written by Minh Le (Let Me Finish! Disney Hyperion, June 7, 2016) with illustrations by Dan Santat (After The Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again Roaring Brook Press, October 3, 2017)

So . . . what's
new, Grandpa?

This story is a moving, truthful journey taken by a grandfather and his grandson.  Love always finds a way.  A daughter, a mother, drops her son off at his grandfather's home.  The grandfather happily greets his less-than-enthusiastic grandson. At dinner the grandfather eats a traditional meal but lovingly provides his grandson with an American meal.

After dinner the grandfather is watching one of his favorite television shows in a language the boy cannot understand.  Bored, he leaves the sofa going to his backpack.  He takes out a box of markers and begins to draw.  Leaning over his shoulder the grandfather is amazed at what he sees.

When he returns to the room, he's carrying a sketch book, a bottle of ink and a brush.  What the grandfather does next amazes the boy.  They share a passion for art; one new and colorful and the other masterful in fine, detailed lines of black on white.  They are a magician and a warrior existing in a realm of their own making.

No matter how many times you read this book, two words will continuously come to mind--timeless classic. We need books which tell us how to bridge generations.  Both have much to offer the other.  One has the wisdom of experience and the other has the zest of new discovery. The blend is a thing of beauty.

6.  Quiet (Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, October 9, 2018) written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola

"My, oh my," the grandfather said.
"Everything is in such a hurry.

A grandfather is strolling with his granddaughter, grandson and family dog among flowers, leafy trees, buzzing bees, other insects and creatures cautiously watching them.  A flock of birds lifts into the air.  The children notice other living things in motion.

At the suggestion of their grandfather they all walk toward a bench.  It's time to sit for a few minutes.  While they are there the grandfather points to the flock of birds, now settled in the tree branches.  The pooch has paused for a quick nap.  Residents of the pond are at rest.

Eyes closed the family is as still as everything around them.  Each member realizes quiet allows them to do certain things with ease.

If you seek calm, this book is a wise selection.  It is breathtaking in its simplicity.  After a read aloud with children or students, it would be interesting to have them speculate on the movements in nature in the other seasons of the year.  This is certain to promote conversations about the value of stillness. 

7.  Hope (Disney Hyperion, February 5, 2019) written and illustrated by Matthew Cordell

Dearest Grandchild,

You are here.

Like no one else,
now, before, or after.

You are here.

This book speaks to the importance of the connection between generations. It is a love letter from grandparents to a beloved grandchild. These lion grandparents teach of the value of individuals.  Each of us are important regardless of the size of the world and the residents populating it.  There are those who share our traits and beliefs and those who do not but always look for commonalities.

This grandchild will go where others have gone.  This grandchild has a choice wherever they go despite what others have done.  This grandchild has the ability to rise like a star.  It won't always be easy to glimmer when darkness descends but the grandparents ask their grandchild to look for hope.

First, I read Hope several times.  Then I read it after reading Wish and Dream.  Then I read it again.  It is assuredly wonderful alone conveying all the desires grandparents have for their grandchildren.  It cheers for grandchildren, all children.  With that being said Hope plus the two previous titles are a timeless trilogy.  You can't read them and not feel the overwhelming power of wishes, dreams and hopes.

8.  Stardust (Nosy Crow, an imprint of Candlewick Press, February 12, 2019) written by Jeanne Willis with illustrations by Briony May Smith

When I was little,
I wanted to be a star.

This title is a tale of a little girl who dreams of stars.  She is also searching for something everyone needs. The members of her family thought her older sister was a star.  When her sister found a precious lost item, made something and won a contest, she received top-notch praise.  The younger child could not seem to earn that kind of recognition.

In fact, after her most recent loss, she burst into tears.  That night sitting outside and watching the stars, our protagonist wished out loud to be one of them.  Her grandfather heard her.

Who has not felt less than they should in a family, classroom or community setting? This book allows readers to see we all have something special to offer this world.  We have the potential to make our dreams come true, even if we want to be a star.

9.  Sea Glass Summer (Candlewick Press, May 21, 2019) written by Michelle Houts with illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline

Some years ago, a boy named Thomas spent the summer at his grandmother's island cottage.

This book is about a memorable summer of discoveries, dreams and stories.  Early during this visit, Thomas's grandmother gifted him with a magnifying glass which had belonged to his grandfather.  Thomas loved to look at found objects through that magnifying glass.  As they walked along the shore, his grandmother found a piece of sea glass.

Thomas was intrigued by her explanation of the sea glass's possible origin.  He was even more fascinated by a saying his grandfather had about sea glass.  A story was attached to every piece.

Sea Glass Summer is a marvelous integration of the past and present through thoughtful, truthful words and exquisite artwork.  This title captures the magic of summers then and now and connects them and other events through story.  There is a soothing harmony in this book.

10. Where Are You From? (Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, June 4, 2019) written by Yamile Saied Mendez with illustrations by Jaime Kim

Where are you from?

they ask.

This title gives readers the best and only responses of true worth after a little girl is questioned by her classmates.  Adults want to know if her parents are from here or from there.  When her reply prompts them to continue to question her, she is confused. She decides to ask her grandfather, her Abuelo,

because he knows everything.

Walking together with his granddaughter, Abuelo stops for a moment to think. He tells her she comes from the Pampas, the gaucho and the brown river.  He further describes the meaning and value of each geographical feature and person.  He continues this journey by taking her to mountain peaks and oceans painting pictures with his words of the flora and fauna dwelling there.

The child, like those who questioned her, wants more.  She needs a specific place.  His response is certain to cause gasps in all readers.  Without a doubt, his granddaughter stops for a moment as joy and warmth fill her soul.  As Abuelo takes her home and holds her close, he speaks of universal, timeless beliefs which will resonate with all of us.

Lovingly written by Yamile Saied Mendez and lovingly illustrated by Jaime Kim, this book, Where Are You From?, tells readers all they need to know about their origins.  At the close of this title, readers will realize the human heart is a landscape large enough to include everyone.

There will come a time as adults when we need to offer loving support to children who have lost their grandparents.  These books, one older and one new, are two favorites of mine.  Follow the links attached to the title and publisher to get more information about them.

The Hickory Chair (Arthur A. Levine Books, February 1, 2001) written by Lisa Rowe Fraustino with illustrations by Benny Andrews 

Grandpa's Stories: A Book of Remembering (Abrams Books for Young Readers, April 2, 2019) written by Joseph Coelho with illustrations by Allison Colpoys

1 comment:

  1. I'm such a fan of grandparent books --- probably because I have nothing but amazing memories of times with my grandparents. I love your list!!! There's something about seeing favorite titles in a collection with other books that draw connections. I'm so glad you jumped into the conversation again this year. I always look forward to your lists!