“Abuela”by Arthur Dorros

 

As the title indicates, we are not done talking and reading about grandmas. For a lot can be said and written about grandmas, indeed. Just look at the very number of ways we can name them. Grandma, Grannie, Baba, Babcia (my grandmother), or Abuela, as Arthur Dorros chose to call her.

 

Abuela came from Mexico, speaks Spanish and… has a very wild imagination. She takes her granddaughter for a bus ride around the NYC. They go to the park, where, inspired by birds, they wonder what it would be like to fly like a ‘pajaro’. They would soar over the streets, wave to the people on bus stops and say ‘Buenos dias’, glide close to the sea… They would see the Statue of Liberty, which would bring Abuela back to the day, when she came to this country. Suddenly Abuela and the girl are back in the park, ready for another, more real adventure: a boat ride.

 

 

Isn’t Abuela representative of so many grandmas who came to this country as immigrants and started a new life here? It wasn’t always easy for them to cherish their traditions and keep ties to their roots. But thanks those grandmas from Mexico, Italy, Ireland, China and other countries, who managed to do so,  this country is so unique and so… colorful? As colorful as the pictures by Elisa Kleven. So vivid, and folkloric, like patches of the quilt. A great background for this poetic story.

But the book is more than a lyrical tale about foreign roots and different cultures. It is also about two languages. Written in English and Spanish, this book is a clever and most appealing way to learn Abuela’s language.

 

 

 

 

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“Grammy Lamby and the Secret Handshake” by Kate Klise and M. Sarah Klise

 

 

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving dinner, great Black Friday deals, or an exciting football marathon- whatever you were looking for in this holiday weekend. For many of us, Thanksgiving is about getting together with the family. The more the merrier. After all, you need a big crew (of non-vegetarians)  to eat the whole bird, right? And that’s why, regardless of how crowded the roads and airports are, we still go to see our relatives, or they come to visit us.

 

Although today’s post and book are not about Thanksgiving, they are about visiting. More precisely, visiting by grandmas. From my experience, grandmas who live far away, have it harder to bond with her grandchildren, than a grandma from the house next door. Perhaps I shouldn’t generalize, and I don’t mean to sound cruel, but little children naturally follow the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ rule. So, what should  a grandma who doesn’t get to see her grandchildren often do, in order to keep the spark between her and her grandchildren?

 

Grammy Lamby had a bright idea. She invented a secret handshake. When she came to visit her grandson Larry, she squeezed his hand three times. Three squeezes meant three words: “I love you”. Larry didn’t warm up to this idea immediately, though. She found grandma odd, if not embarrassing. Grammy Lamby had to prove herself and her time to do so came… with a storm. When Larry saw how fearless his Grammy was, how hard she worked to help repair the damage the storm caused to the house and town, and what a good story-teller she was to boot, Larry gave his Grammy a chance. She was no longer odd. She was a great companion, if not a hero! Did Larry eventually take to the secret handshake idea?  Even better. He invented his own squeeze code, that only him and his Grammy understood. 

“Grammy Lamby and the Secret Handshake” is a wonderful celebration of a unique bond, that can develop between grandmas and their grandchildren. It takes a little creativity, a little trick, and quite some patience, but once grandmas find out what drives their little guys, they won’t have to wait long to win over the little hearts. And isn’t it worth it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Grandpa’s Overalls” by Tony Crunk

Since this month my blog is dedicated to grandparents, I have a few books about grandmas and grandpas to recommend. I am going to start with a book about grandpa . Why? First of all, because they are harder to find. Somehow, grandmas are more inspiring for  the children’s book writers. Or more marketable for publishers. Secondly, in my family, we love our grandmas. They are real angels. But it is grandpas who are the jokers, true play mates and always ready to take their grandchildren for an adventure. And is today’s book.

Imagine seeing your grandpa’s overalls, or let’s say, pants, fly off the hook and run away. It happened to a certain grandpa. He needed his overalls for work, so he started chasing them all over the farm. His family joined the chase, so did the neighbors, but without luck. Finally, everyone decided that if grandpa couldn’t work without his overalls, they would have to do the job. And so they did, while grandpa got a well deserved day of rest. And the overalls? Did they ever come back? Only to pick up grandma’s long-tailed nightie… And since grandma couldn’t sleep without her nightie, the wold chase resumed. 

Absurd, comic and extra-entertaining. A real giggle-generator, both the story and the quirky pictures by Scott Nash. My son loved it and I think your children might like reading it too. Perhaps even with, to or by their grandpas. Whether they wear overalls or not.

The role of Grandparents in a child’s life

When I was little, my parents shared a house with my grandparents. The Polish reality of the 70’s. Even though this set up lasted just a few years, I have always retained a very close bond with my grandparents. I even moved back with them when I started the primary school to save me from commuting by bus. I loved living with my grandparents, but I didn’t have to wait long to see the painful side-effects of this arrangement. Although I eventually moved back with my parents and brothers, we never got really close. It was my grandparents who mostly influenced my up-bringing. Their opinion mattered to me more than my parents’. I talked more with my grandma than with my mom and I did more things with my grandpa than with my dad. He was my driving instructor, dance coach and a cooking guru.. My parents were just my parents. Regardless of how much I love my grandma and grandpa, I often wonder if my handicapped relationship with my parents could have been different if I had seen my grandparents just for holidays.

Now that I am a mom, I am pretty determined to be in charge of raising my own children. I don’t want to make the same mistake my parents did. At the same time, I realize that I can’t deprive my children of the time with their grandma and grandpa. How to find a balance? And secondly, how to make my perfect plan meet the limitations of the reality?

As it is, I am facing two extremes. My parents live on another continent and  we see them briefly every other year.  As a result, my parents’ role in the life of my children is almost non-existent.  Not much bonding can happen over the phone and from the pictures. And i actually wish it was a bit more. My parents-in-law, on the other hand, seem to be living for their grandchildren. They are always ready hop on the plane just to see  our son (two sons any day now), even though they live on the East Coast. They, come to  birthdays, send cards and gifts… My son is delighted to spend time with them and I am happy for him. I wouldn’t have anything to complain if not for two things. Firstly, gifts and more gifts.  And you know what I think about too many gifts if you read my earlier post,”Too Many Toys” by David Shannon.  Secondly,  spoiling and more spoiling. “Grandma will help you with this, grandma will bring you that…” And when I am trying to be assertive and state my parenting rules I feel like I am fighting with my generous, helpful and loving mother-in-law over her good intentions. According to grandma, she has the right to please her grandchildren. Does she? To what extent? Am I really mean and selfish trying to impose some rules and limitations in the grandparents-grandchildren relationship?  Is it parental insecurity?  Would it all matter less if my parents were more engaged?  Lots of questions, but here is one for you: what is the golden mean????????????

Books about Grandmas and Grandpas

A few titles that celebrate grandparents, from the books I have already reviewed in my 1-365 posts:

1. “The Amazing Journey to Grandma’s House” by Cheryl Hawkinson and Mary Eakin

2. “The Perfect Gift” by Mary Newel DePaola

3. “A visit to Grandma’s” by Nancy Carlson

4. Grandpa Toad’s Secrets” by Keiko Kasza

 

1bookperday in November

It’s 5.30 pm and I should be cooking dinner while trying to entertain my hungry preschooler. Today, I don’t have to do that, though. We are going to eat out and my son is being taken care of by his tireless grandparents. It’s been a week since they came with a visit to celebrate our son’s birthday and to meet the newest addition to our family. The baby is still to arrive but my son has had a real blast for seven days now. Their mutual joy of spending time together made me think about using grandparents as the focus of my blog for this month. I’ve been reflecting a lot about the role of grandparents in a family’s life and we have surely read enough picture books about grandmas and grandpas to serve as recommendations. So, what is the role that grandparents should play in the life of their grandchildren?