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Welcome to the Horn Book's Family Reading blog, a place devoted to offering children's book recommendations and advice about the whats and whens and whos and hows of sharing books in the home. Find us on Twitter @HornBook and on Facebook at Facebook.com/TheHornBook


Grandparents Day 2018

Grandparents Day is Sunday, September 9. Here are some recent books for young readers and listeners about grandparents, grandchildren, and intergenerational friendships that celebrate the special bond between children and their elders. Reviews are from current or forthcoming issues of The Horn Book Guide.

Brantley-Newton, Vanessa  Grandma’s Purse
32 pp. Knopf 2018 ISBN 978-1-5247-1431-4 LE ISBN 978-1-5247-1432-1 Ebook ISBN 978-1-5247-1433-8

Grandma Mimi’s large patchwork purse always contains treasures: lipstick, perfume, earrings, hairpins, candy, etc. The unnamed narrator claims that everything in the purse is “how Mimi gets to be Mimi,” and once the girl uses each item, she declares, “I can be Mimi, too!” The highly textured images in this heartfelt homage depict the daily-ness of African American girlhood with a grandma who brings the magic.

Cabrera, Cozbi A. My Hair Is a Garden
32 pp. Whitman 2018 ISBN 978-0-8075-0923-4

MacKenzie, teased for her “always a mess” hair, turns to neighbor Miss Tillie for help. The story strikes an effective balance between Miss Tillie encouraging self-confidence and explaining step-by-step self-improvement to MacKenzie. While many skin tones are represented in the soft acrylic illustrations, MacKenzie and Miss Tillie share a deep ebony color, contrasted with bright blues, greens, and reds in the patterns and backgrounds.

Costello, David Hyde  Little Pig Saves the Ship
32 pp. Charlesbridge 2017 ISBN 978-1-58089-715-0 Ebook ISBN 978-1-60734-929-7

Little Pig’s (Little Pig Joins the Band) older siblings are going to sailing camp; he reluctantly stays behind, learning to tie knots. His grandfathers bring him a toy boat, which keeps him entertained all week. Friendly watercolors capture the hustle-and-bustle of a large family, Little Pig’s initial loneliness, and summer days spent knee-deep in a (beautifully evoked) pooled-up stream. A profusion of speech bubbles adds drama, immediacy, and humor.

dePaola, Tomie  Quiet
32 pp. Simon 2018 ISBN 978-1-4814-7754-3 Ebook ISBN 978-1-4814-7755-0

A grandfather, a girl, a boy, and their dog notice the busyness of the natural world around them. The grandfather proposes a rest on a nearby bench. All becomes calm, and the children notice the value of being quiet and still. Soft pastel shades, long gentle contours, and plenty of white space create a properly serene world to take in.

Gomi, Taro  I Really Want to See You, Grandma
40 pp. Chronicle 2018 ISBN 978-1-4521-6158-7

A sweet and funny picture book about missed connections, determination, and intergenerational devotion. One day, Yumi and her grandmother impulsively set out to see the other, but they keep passing each other as they travel in opposite directions. At last, to their great joy, they meet in the exact middle of their two houses. Warm colors draw viewers in to enjoy all the action and situational humor, while the repetition in the brief but effective text makes it work for both very young listeners and newly independent readers.

Kerley, Barbara with Kalt, Rhoda Knight  Tigers & Tea with Toppy: A True Adventure in New York City with Wildlife Artist Charles R. Knight, Who Loved Saber-Toothed Cats, Parties at the Plaza, and People and Animals of All Stripes
48 pp. Scholastic 2018 ISBN 978-1-338-13427-8

Illustrated by Matte Stephens, with original art by Charles R. Knight. This appealing introduction to the groundbreaking work of American wildlife artist Knight is told from the perspective of his granddaughter Rhoda. The two meet at the American Museum of Natural History to pore over his work; Toppy tells Rhoda about his childhood and his determination to learn to draw the animals he loved to study. Stephens’s playful, quirky gouache illustrations incorporate some of Knight’s actual art.

Kim, Julie Where’s Halmoni?
96 pp. Sasquatch/Little Bigfoot 2017 ISBN 978-1-63217-077-4

This gentle and humorous graphic novel for younger readers is told exclusively through dialogue, sound effects, and visual narrative. Siblings Noona and Joon follow clues in search of their missing grandmother and are transported to a magical world featuring Korean-speaking characters and imagery from Korean folklore. Adventures ensue, some fraught with danger. Additional information about the folktale characters is provided in the back matter. Glos.

Lê, Minh  Drawn Together
40 pp. Disney-Hyperion 2018 ISBN 978-1-4847-6760-3

Illustrated by Dan Santat. An English-speaking grandson and his Thai-speaking grandfather have trouble communicating in words — but with art supplies in their hands, they create a shared magical adventure involving warriors and dragons. “Right when I gave up on talking, my grandfather surprised me by revealing a world beyond words. And in a FLASH—we see each other for the first time.” Varied mixed-media panel illustrations incorporate culturally specific motifs in both the real-world setting and the fantastical story-within-a-story.

Martinez-Neal, Juana  Alma and How She Got Her Name
32 pp. Candlewick 2018 ISBN 978-0-7636-9355-8

Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela feels self-conscious about her long name until her father tells her about the family members after whom she is named. The pictures — grayscale print-transfer illustrations with soft textures —steal the show in their depiction of the sweet closeness between Alma and her father as well as her connection to her ancestors. Also available in Spanish.

Ruiz, Cecilia  A Gift from Abuela
32 pp. Candlewick 2018 ISBN 978-0-7636-9267-4

Ruiz elevates a standard tale about the loving bond between a grandmother and granddaughter with historically significant and culturally relevant detail (the book is set in 1980s Mexico City). Ruiz’s mixed-media illustrations deftly incorporate culturally specific details — the iconic Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl volcanos, green commuter vans (a.k.a. combis), piquant storefront signs distinctly characteristic of Mexican humor — to capture the vibrancy of the city’s aesthetic.

Snyder, Laurel  Charlie & Mouse & Grumpy
48 pp. Chronicle 2017. ISBN 978-1-4521-3748-3
Illustrated by Emily Hughes. In this sequel to Charlie & Mouse, four chapters detail small moments shared by two brothers and a visiting grandfather-figure, Grumpy. The exuberant text is large and clear with plenty of white space. Thoughtful word repetition ensures that the chapters build with a steady rhythm. Soft, muted illustrations with imprecise outlines match the narrative’s balance of cozy and playful.

Thomas, Penny M.  Nimoshom and His Bus
32 pp. HighWater 2017 ISBN 978-1-55379-708-1 Ebook ISBN 978-1-55379-733-3

Illustrated by Karen Hibbard. Nimoshom (“my grandfather”) is a beloved school bus driver who sometimes speaks in Cree. A brief text about his daily routine incorporates Cree words. “In the morning, nimoshom would greet the kids. He would say: ‘Tansi!’ Tansi means hello.” The story’s rhythmic pacing and conversational quality makes for an enjoyable read-aloud experience. Loose, expressive mixed-media illustrations capture the warm relationship between nimoshom and the children. Glos.

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