Living near extended family can be a treasure – especially for growing children – and intergenerational relationships can add richness to the lives of all involved. In that regard, Ready Readers this month recommends two books that celebrate the special bonds of family.
In Grandma’s Tiny House, author JaNay Brown-Wood and illustrator Priscilla Burris combine counting, colors, relatives and rhyme to describe a joyful potluck supper. Readers are introduced to Grandma’s house: “Tiny in size at the edge of Brown Street,” situated happily between larger, newer and more impersonal residences. Inside on the cottage’s cozy wall, photos feature people both young and old in frames of all shapes and sizes. Then, the dilemma: “Grandma’s house stays small as the family grows. Will everyone fit inside this time? Who knows?!”
Burris’ inviting digital watercolor artwork depicts the setting and characters with vibrant simplicity. Readers should sense excitement and exuberance through the faces of Grandma’s gathering potluck guests, while Brown-Wood offers counting and comparison opportunities on each page.
Just as the enthusiasm for the potluck visually bursts through the pictures, the lack of space demands a solution. The youngest in attendance proves the wisest – as the assembled smorgasbord becomes a movable feast and the festivities spill into the backyard.
Narrating this month’s second recommended book is an irrepressibly spunky female grandchild. The Hello, Goodbye Window by acclaimed author Norton Juster and illustrator Chris Raschka constitutes an unabashed love letter to families, celebrating the imaginative nature of children and their total devotion to the adults who nurture them.
Readers are again introduced first to the house: “Nanna and Poppy live in a big house in the middle of town.” The storyteller values most not the size of the house but the singularly special kitchen window: “That’s the Hello, Goodbye Window. It looks like a regular window, but it’s not.”
Juster reveals the magic of the window and the daily goings-on within, using the perfectly paced run-ons of an excited child. To add to the irrefutable nature of the granddaughter’s storytelling, the text appears in bold throughout the book (sometimes also in all capitals) with an abundance of exclamation points. The granddaughter regales us with tales of Poppy’s harmonica playing, the steadfast belief that Nanna knows all the stars in the sky by name, her wariness of the big bush in the back garden (“a tiger lives there”) and her elation at being squirted with the hose in hot weather.
Raschka’s work earned a Caldecott Award in 2006 for The Hello, Goodbye Window. His oil crayon illustrations combine vivid backgrounds punctuated with amorphous shapes of contrasting color, inhabited by simply drawn but emotive characters. The Caldecott committee commented: “With a few energetic lines, Raschka suggests a world filled with affection and humor. The richly textured tones of these expressive illustrations convey the emotional warmth of the intergenerational connection.”
At Ready Readers, we know that “Kids Who Read Succeed!” Visit our website (readyreaders.org) to learn how you can support our efforts to share the magic of books with our community’s most vulnerable children. We prepare children to be successful lifelong readers by providing new books, early literacy experiences and more.