Intergenerational warmth and wisdom

These recent picture books center the warmth, wisdom, and love of family members across generations.

In Love and the Rocking Chair, the final collaboration between Diane and Leo Dillon (much of the book had been finished before Leo's death in 2012), a rocking chair bought in anticipation of a baby's birth is well loved, well used, and then passed down to the next generation. Acrylic paintings use flat pastel shades, pared-down shapes, and minimal facial expressions. A quiet story with underpinnings of love, loss, and the strength of family bonds. (Scholastic/Blue Sky, 5–8 years)

At the Mountain's Base captures the emotions of a family separated by war while introducing readers to an often-erased part of history. In a cabin at the base of a mountain, multiple generations of Cherokee women await the return of their daughter/sister/mother/granddaughter, who is piloting a plane during wartime somewhere far away. While they wait, they weave, sing, and pray for her safe arrival. Traci Sorell's poetic text is augmented by Weshoyot Alvitre's vivid watercolor and ink illustrations. (Penguin/Kokila, 5–8 years)

In Mina Javaherbin's My Grandma and Me, the narrator recalls her childhood growing up in Iran. The child accompanies her grandma on her daily routines, including spending time with friends; as Grandma and her best friend laugh, drink coffee, and knit blankets for their mosque and church, respectively, the children (and readers) witness a beautiful interfaith friendship. Lindsey Yankey's muted illustrations work well to convey cherished memories and love, with thoughtful cultural details incorporated throughout. (Candlewick, 5–8 years)

You Are My Friend: The Story of Mister Rogers and His Neighborhood by Aimee Reid, illustrated by Matt Phelan, presents a fictionalized (but sourced) story of young Fred Rogers. Although he has few friends growing up, Fred’s grandfather and mother teach him that he is special and valued, and to "look for people who [are] helping" in order to calm worried feelings — all hallmarks of his later television show. Phelan's ability to depict, without sentimentalizing, the dual vulnerabilities and strengths of children reinforces the calm, straightforward story line. (Abrams, 5–8 years)

From the January 2020 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons University and a BA from Oberlin College.

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