What do you do when you have a picture book online reader copy marathon? You read them, then decide which ones to write up. And these stories about different generations coming together are just a small sample of what was on my reading plate.
Both of my grandmothers were odd. After all, they married my grandfathers. And you don’t know odd until you have met the man the neighborhood called “the crazy old man with the ski pole” or the one who told the president of my college the story about his pet fish who drowned. And the grandmother, or the Baba of the narrator in My Baba’s Garden, is odd, too (and not because she married the grandfather).. And like my grandmothers, she is odd in a very endearing way. She “lives in a chicken coop beside a highway” and gathers worms. The grandchild and grandmother have a language issue, but the two find ways to communicate without words. They show how they love each other with actions and expressions. And Jordan Scott’s story is a love letter to all the grandmothers out there, and Sydney Smith creates dreamy images that are colorful, busy and soothing, while being strong, and supports this story. It is a delightful story about the generations.
I know a little bit about a little of everything, but then again, don’t we all? What I did not know was about rug-washing day in an Armenian family. But that was taken care of with Babo: A Tale of Armenian Rug-Washing Day by Astrid Kamalyan. It is not just adding soap and water and scrub, there is much more going on. It is a family affair that is sternly, but lovingly, overstretched by their grandmother. A culture comes to life in a little piece of daily life. A simple chore shows how things come together to show fun and work together. The language of the people is mixed in as the Anait Semirdzhyan illustrations give life to a detailed task. Things are amusing, colorful and busy without being crowded. They are happy images.
And what about the grandfathers? Well, they have their stories, too. I found Dadaji’s Paintbrush by Rashmi Sirdeshpande. It was a sweet grandfather and grandchild story. We find ourselves rooting for a grandfather and his grandson who do not have a lot, but they have each other. And they have their paintings together. The life of these two people is lovingly told in the illustrations of Ruchi Mhasane, where we see how they survive, and how their creativity spreads joy throughout the community of children. However, after the death of the grandfather; the grandson’s grief pulls him away from the things he loves. It is not until a small child enters his life that he is able to find himself again. This is a bittersweet tale, but one that I enjoyed.