Tuesday, September 5, 2006

'Grand' picture books

The Grandpa BookThe Grandma Book

My Pop Pop and Me
By Irene Smalls;
illustrated by Cathy Ann Johnson
Little, Brown, 26 pages, $15.99, ages 4-8
My Nana and Me
By Irene Smalls;
illustrated by Cathy Ann Johnson
Little, Brown, 26 pages, $15.99, ages 4-8 

The Grandpa Book
By Todd Parr
Little, Brown, 24 pages, $9.99, ages 2-6 

The Grandma Book
By Todd Parr

Little, Brown, 24 pages, $9.99, ages 2-6 

Grandparents play major roles
in some excellent tales for younger kids
Published in The News Tribune, Sept. 5, 2006

A child who knows grandparents is a lucky child.
Grandparents' Day, which is this Sunday, is a good excuse to share some good picture books that honor those special bonds that bridge a generation.
Grandma and Grandpa are featured separately in a pair of lovely books written by Irene Smalls and illustrated by Cathy Ann Johnson.
"My Pop Pop and Me" came out this year, joining "My Nana and Me," published in 2005. Both feature black families, as, happily, more and more everyday books do these days.
In the new book, a boy helps his grandfather bake a lemon cake. The words are joyfully rhythmic. "Pift pift the sifter's swift.
"Mash mash I love to smash."
The simple text communicates the fun of baking and time together.

In bright, beautiful watercolors the love between Pop Pop and boy almost bursts off the pages.
Johnson's paintings are playful, decorated with swirls, speckles and little squares. Bubbles float across the pages - eggs and lemons, too. The perspective shifts in fun ways. In one picture, the boy is tiny and pouring milk with the carton on his back. In another, Pop Pop and child carry a giant slice of cake.
A recipe for Lemon Bar Cake Bake is included.
In "My Nana and Me," a girl and grandma have a tea party, and then spend the day together, all the way until bedtime. It's either an overnight visit, or the pair lives together. We don't know - or need to. Whatever the case, the love is as evident as in the first book.
"Then we played hide-and-seek.
"My Nana can never find me.
"I am the smartest girl in the world.
"I know because my Nana told me so
"and she knows everything."
Johnson contributes the same swirls, lovely colors and shifting perspectives. On one page, the girl is pouting because Nana has called her "baby girl." She is pictured as huge, the grandmother tiny.
Another pair of books, "The Grandpa Book" and "The Grandma Book," by Todd Parr, presents entertaining and true descriptions of varied grandparents.
"Some grandpas put extra money in your piggy bank," one says.
"Some grandmas give you a lot of books," says the other. That will be me, someday. Both books make a few statements about "all grandpas" and "all grandpas."

"All grandmas like to give you lots of kisses."
Parr's pictures are fun - neon-bright and childlike. His people come in a mix of colors, including purple and green. Their faces are uncluttered by noses.
Here's a list of some other recent and classic grandparent books:
"Here Comes Grandma!" by Janet Lord, illustrated by Julie Paschkis: Grandma is coming to visit. She might ride a bike, take a train, ski down a mountain, fly a plane or race a submarine. Charming illustrations by Seattle resident Paschkis look like folk art (Henry Holt, 28 pages, $12.95, ages 2-4).
"The Grandma Cure," by Pamela Mayer, illustrated by John Nez: When a child stays home sick with a cold, it sets off a two-grandmother competition over who can take better care of her. The girl keeps the peace. Lively pictures are by another Seattle resident (Dutton, 32 pages, $15.99, ages 4-8).
"Abuela," by Arthur Dorros, illustrated by Elisa Kleven: An enchanting tale by yet another Seattle resident about Rosalba and her grandmother who fly over New York City in their imaginations; includes many Spanish phrases where the meaning is clear in context. Abuela and child take an imaginary visit to the Caribbean in a sequel, "Isla." Kleven's collages are magical (Dutton, 40 pages, $7.99 paperback, ages 4-8).
"Tom," by Tomie dePaola: An autobiographical picture book by a beloved children's author/illustrator details a special relationship between a grandfather and his namesake (Putnam, 32 pages, $6.99 paperback, ages 4-8).
"My Grandma is Coming to Town," by Anna Grossnickle Hines, illustrated by Melissa Sweet: A nicely illustrated, sweetly told story addresses long-distance relationships. A small boy and his grandmother have a close bond by mail and phone. He's thrilled when she plans a visit, but gets a sudden attack of shyness when she arrives (Candlewick, 16 pages, $13.99, ages 2-6).
-Rebecca Young

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