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Grandparents! New Family Book: A review for grandmothers and grandfathers who love good books

Published by Maximo Catoire

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By Roser Capdevila, Anne-Laure Fournier le Ray

Kane/Miller $10.95 27 pages

I was eager to read Grandparents! when it crossed my desk. I sat down and prepared to enjoy a topic dear to my heart — I’m a grandmother of five, all born within the last year and I know how lucky I am. When I finished the little volume, I passed it to my daughter, who read it to her little guy, just under a year old.

Blake, my grandson, didn’t enjoy the book — obviously he isn’t the target age group.He fidgeted and got bored. His mom said she didn’t care for the story either. Hard to tell what age is aimed at.

For me, it had some good ideas. But, originally published in French as Grandparents, What and Adventure, it lost something in translation. The text is a bit cumbersome, having no real rhythm or cadence. It feels clumsy or something — can’t quite put my finger on it.

Yes, grandparents are all different, as authors Capdevila and Fournier le Ray try to portray. But those differences could be made much more charming or interesting — a sort of celebration. Sadly, there’s a short-fall here.

I didn’t mind the illustrations, but they felt very familiar like something you’ve seen often, but can’t quite call to mind where. Now, sometimes that’s good. Kids like familiar things – they can be comfortable and soothing. I’d have enjoyed seeing something with more sparkle and originality.

In at least two instances, the drawings were confusing. One, a picture of what was to represent a family tree was really hard to “get.” I couldn’t be sure what was hanging from the tree. In another spot, the text said “grandparents invite us out,” but the picture caption said, “you can’t come with us.” Hard to decide what was going on there.

Grandparents! gets a thumbs up for being modern and hip – it talks about “peeing,” very current in kid lit. It refers to death and grieving. But there isn’t enough substance to be useful. It felt like the writers read a how-to-write-for-today’s-kids book and weren’t really committed to crafting the ideas so they fit and moved the story forward.

My bottom line with this one — the publisher has produced some excellent books. Tjhis isn’t one of them. The writers seem to be translators who turned their hand to writing a kid’s book because it’s easy. I’d like to have seen them narrow their focus, condense the concepts they presented about grandparents and think through some high quality story elements. A beginning, middle, and end.

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