Tag Archives: Penelope Harper

A Handful of Recent Picture Books with Grandparents

Grandma Bendy by Izy Penguin (Maverick Arts Publishing, 2012)Grandma Bendy by Izy Penguin (Maverick Arts Publishing, 2012)

Here is a Grandma like no other – she has very stretchy and bendy arms and legs. She’s a superhero to her grandchildren and great for getting you in the house when you’ve lost your keys, but she has a dark past. Grandma Bendy used to be… a burglar! I like how, although this is a humourous book, it does touch on how upsetting being burgled can be and that a life of crime can only lead to prison.

MG and DG liked looking for Grandma Bendy when she was playing hide and seek, and that she was good now. MG was a little worried about the burglaring part because one of her friends scared her by pretending there were bad men burglars out in the dark, plus she caught some adult chat about the missing child which accentuated her worries. Fortunately this is a happy and funny book, and just what she needed to not worry about ‘bad men’ in the dark when she’s safely at home.

40 Uses for a Grandpa by Harriet Ziefert & Amanda Haley (Blue Apple Books, 2005)40 Uses for a Grandpa by Harriet Ziefert & Amanda Haley (Blue Apple Books, 2005)

A lovely little book, this consists of a list of forty things a grandparent can be, each with an illustration. ‘Uses’ given are storyteller, teacher, referee, nurse, opponent, baker, friend… Various grandparents and families are included in the illustrations, covering different races making this an accessible book. This book does include Americanisms (veterinarian, entertainment center) but not in a way to distract from the overall purpose of the book.

When reading this with MG and DG, we talked about which things their Grandpa was very good at and which things he probably wouldn’t do! Another time I’ll talk about my dad and what he would have done with them if he were still alive.  This is a good book to spark discussion about all the things we have because of our grandparents and all the things they do for us and would also make a lovely gift for a Grandpa to share with their grandchildren. MG and DG’s Grandpa is ‘Grandpa’ rather than ‘Granddad’ or another nickname (my dad was ‘Daddo’ being the Irish pet version) so this works very well for us but the name doesn’t matter as the message is the same so I think it’s suitable for all!

The Great Granny Gang by Judith Kerr (HarperCollins Children's Books, 2012)The Great Granny Gang by Judith Kerr (HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2012)

A new Judith Kerr, and beautifully illustrated as you’d expect. The premise is lovely: a gang of crime-stopping grannies (the youngest eighty-two) who all do things that you don’t expect elderly ladies to do: like ballooning, chimney repairs and lion taming. I do love the Granny Gang members, but I am disappointed that the antagonists chosen are a gang of ‘hoodies’. I thought we were beyond blaming the youth of today and their fashion sense for all being disrespectful and criminal, and as this is a book to read to young children who may grow up into these youths I’d prefer a more positive role model. I would have preferred a gang of bad grannies for the good grannies to convert! However, my children are young and don’t read so much into this, and it is only a picture book… They like the grannies, the mess, and the crocodile. I like the art, the cats, and the wonderful grannies – especially Maud with her pneumatic drill.

Lollipop and Grandpa and the Wobbly Tooth by Penelope Harper & Cate James (Phoenix Yard Books, 2012)Lollipop and Grandpa and the Wobbly Tooth by Penelope Harper & Cate James (Phoenix Yard Books, 2012)

I found this book whilst browsing the shelves in Mostly Books, vaguely looking for a book involving grandfathers as most of the books I had covered grandmothers but also just generally browsing when this caught my eye. There was also a copy of Lollipop and Grandpa’s Back Garden Safari which I flicked through and it looked great fun but I bought this one because MG is at the age where her teeth will start to wobble soon. Phoenix Yard are a relatively new independent publishers and looking at their catalogue, they are one to keep an eye on. I also flicked through I Have The Right To Be A Child and mentally added it to my wishlist!

Lollipop and her Grandpa have a wonderfully close relationship, she beams when he comes to stay and he loves spending time with her. Grandpa has a huge amount of joy and curiousness about the world, perfect for sharing with a child, and comes up with all sorts of mad ideas for helping Lollipop with her wobbly tooth.Throughout the book healthy teeth habits are encouraged (but not forced) and it’s a healthy snack that helps Lollipop’s tooth come out. I love the caring relationship between the grandparent and grandchild; DG and MG love all Grandpa’s silly suggestions, and to guess what will actually work. This is a happy and reassuring book, lovely to share with grandparents or to talk about them when they are not around, either through distance or loss.

Whizz Pop, Granny Stop! byTracey Corderoy & Joe Berger (Nosy Crow, 2012)Whizz Pop, Granny Stop! by Tracey Corderoy & Joe Berger (Nosy Crow, 2012)

This is the sequel to Hubble Bubble, Granny Trouble, which we borrowed from the library and loved (and will probably end up on the shelves at some point!) This granny is definitely very, very different. The first book has her granddaughter attempting a makeover to change her into a normal, ordinary granny but it’s really a story of how to accept people just the way they are. I don’t think the word ‘witch’ is used in either book, but Granny is very obviously a witch with her pointy black hat, black cat, cauldron and book of spells.

In Whizz Pop, Granny Stop the granddaughter wants Granny to stop making spells to try to fix things because they never seem to go quite right (pink hair and a missing rabbit being results of previous spells). For her party she wants it all to be done the long way so they bake cakes and sew clothes, and although the results aren’t perfect, it’s perfect for them. But after the party, there’s all that mess, and Granny’s magic comes in again. This book again is about accepting people for who they are, and for appreciating what we have rather than wishing for perfection. A great philosophy wrapped up in a fun, imaginative rhyme with utterly gorgeous illustrations Both books highly recommended – especially with Halloween just around the corner!

Disclaimer: We were sent copies of Grandma Bendy by Maverick Arts Publishing; 40 Uses for a Grandpa by Blue Apple Books; and The Great Granny Gang by HarperCollins Children’s Books for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.