a grand heap of loving…five glad stories about grandparents

Mary_Cassatt_xx_Mrs_Cassatt_Reading_to_Her_Grandchildren_1880Last week was babies here on Orange Marmalade. Today and tomorrow we’re soaking in the richness of grandparents.

Grandparents pass on wisdom gained from long lives. They teach us, accomodate us, play with us, chat with us, and most of all love us in unique and powerful ways. I adore each of the grandparents in today’s stories, beginning with…

nana in the city cover imageNana in the City, written and illustrated by Lauren Castillo
published in 2014 by Clarion Books

So many stories about grandparents feature kids heading out to the country to visit grandma. Help her feed the chickens. Swim in the pond. Climb the old oak tree.

Lauren Castillo’s newest book switches things up, with a young boy visiting his Nana in the city. And it’s splendid!

This little fellow is very much a skeptic right from the start. Cities, in his opinion, are loud, brash, nervewracking places. Definitely “no place for a nana to live.”

nana in the city illustration lauren castillo

But Nana loves her new home. Outfitting her grandson in a brave red cape she’s knitted, she sets out to show him all the joys of her neighborhood. Strolling past buskers, dogwalkers and breakdancers, he tastes the energy, diversity, and thrill of the city — and decides after all, it’s a dandy place for nana in the city illustration2 lauran castillohis Nana to live.

If you see Lauren Castillo’s name on a book, just snatch it up. Her work is some of the warmest and most joyous being created today for young children. Not only are her smudgy line, color palette, and comfy figures as warm as buttered toast, but her stories radiate comfort, relationship, the beauty of the commonplace world around us. These are the stories to reach for time and again, with tremendous lasting appeal.

Lovely to share with ages 2 and up.

Oh — and breaking news! Lauren just won a Caldecott Honor for this book today!! Congratulations, Lauren!! So deserved.

abuelo cover imageAbuelo, by Arthur Dorros, illustrated by Raúl Colon
published in 2014 by Harper

The wide, breathtaking, Argentinian pampas are home to this young boy and his abuelo — grandfather.

These two share a relationship as strong as the mountain trees. As beautiful as the starry night sky.

Together, they ride up into the thin mountain air, find their way along faint trails. Abuelo teaches his grandson how to contend with cold rainstorms and menacing mountain lions, how to guide his horse with gentleness and strength.

Understandably, then, it’s a sad day when the boy’s family moves to the city, leaving behind this land and this extraordinary abuelo. Yet even here, Abuelo’s wisdom is just what his grandson needs and by recalling Abuelo’s words, he seems ever near.

I love the relationship between this gorgeous grandfather and his devoted grandson. We would all be lucky to have such a person in our lives. The fact that they live in such a dramatically beautiful landscape makes me even more jealous!

abuelo arthur dorros raul colon interior

Raúl Colon captures the stunning beauty of the golden pampas, the majestic, snow-covered Andes, the distinguished face of Abuelo, the strength of the horses, the tenderness of this relationship in his always-superb illustrations.

A few Spanish words are sprinkled into this striking pairing of word and image, for ages 4 and up.

last stop on market street cover imageLast Stop on Market Street, by Matt de la Peña, pictures by Christian Robinson
published in 2015 by G. P. Putnam’s Sons

CJ and his nana are going about their usual business on Sunday. Church is over and together they walk down to the bus stop.

Today it’s raining, and some slightly stormy questions are also pattering around CJ’s mind.

How come he and his nana have to walk through the rain when his friends ride in cars? How come they have to ride the bus? How come they have to make this weekly journey?

Seeds of envy and discontentment squirm about in CJ’s heart as he looks to last stop on market street illustration2 christian robinsonNana for answers to these nagging concerns.

Nana is a glory. Her responses come from a deep soul that’s traveled some weary paths and gained pearls of wisdom in the process. With each reply, she lifts CJ’s mindset to embrace the upside, the potential, the beauty of his surroundings.

Where are these two going? You need to read this book to find out! You’ll fall in love with Nana and CJ and probably see your own world through new eyes.

A beautiful piece of work by Matt de la Peña, with vibrant, urban, mixed-media collages from Christian Robinson. Don’t miss this gem, for ages 3 and older.

the crack of dawn walkers cover image2The Crack-of-Dawn Walkers, by Amy Hest, illustrated by Amy Schwartz
published in 1984 by Macmillan Publishing Company

Sadie and Grandfather are also out and about on Sunday morning.

It’s especially cold and snowy today, but that doesn’t stop them from trudging along amiably at the crack of dawn.

First stop is Emma’s Bake Shop for onion rolls and a little something for dessert.

Then comes Fabio’s where a steaming cup of coffee for grandfather and “one cocoa, double the whipped cream” for Sadie is their tradition. Choosing a fat Sunday paper and some sweets from the candy counter is also part of the the crack of dawn walkers illustration amy schwartz 001weekly routine.

Grandfather’s memories of “the old country” where fancy business like candy shops didn’t exist, his patient responses to Sadie’s chatter, his faithful, crack-of-dawn walking with Sadie and little Ben (they take turns so as to have him all to themselves) reveal the kindness, depth, and steadfastness of his old soul. 

A sweet favorite of mine, charmingly illustrated in graphite drawings by Amy Schwartz. Ages 4 and up.

oliver amanda and grandmother pig cover imageOliver, Amanda, and Grandmother Pig, by Jean Van Leeuwen, pictures by Ann Schweninger
published in 1987 by Puffin Books

The old Oliver Pig readers hold some of the funniest, sweetest, laugh-out-loud moments in our family reading.

In this volume, Grandmother comes for a visit. 

Grandmother and Amanda become Early Bird partners in the mornings. She tells Oliver and Amanda funny stories about when she was little. They all have a raucous pillow fight to keep from being scared during a thunderstorm.

And no matter what they do…Grandmother keeps losing her glasses. They oliver amanda and grandmother pig illustration ann schweninger 001wind up in such peculiar places!

Five happy chapters of love and silliness for readers who are ready for something a mite longer than the Mr. Putter books,  illustrated in sunny, charming watercolors. 

If you haven’t met Oliver Pig, do check out the oldest titles in the series, Tales of Oliver Pig and More Tales of Oliver Pig.