The Klise sisters (Little Rabbit and the Meanest Mother on Earth) have once again hit the nail on the head: some relatives—okay, old relatives—fill kids with dread. Take Larry Lamb’s Grammy Lamby: she’s loud, boring, and clueless, sewing pink polka-dot pajamas for Larry, bellowing about “fabulous” adventures that just the two of them can take, and embarrassing him with her triple squeeze secret handshake. “He even said in his head, ‘Please (squeeze). Go (squeeze). Away (squeeze).’” Worst of all, Larry feels completely alone in his misery (his dislike of Grammy Lamby is his “big secret”). M. Sarah Klise’s assertively girly rendering style makes a terrific visual foil for the beleaguered hero’s humiliation and horror. When a big storm hits, Larry discovers that Grammy Lamby is actually a can-do dynamo, capable of rebuilding Larry’s damaged home and spearheading cleanup efforts for the entire valley. Most embarrassing relatives don’t get the opportunity to reveal another side of themselves as Grammy Lamby does, but this empathetic story may persuade readers that there’s a real human being behind that unfortunate gift or too-tight hug. Ages 4–8. (July)
From the Publisher
“...lovely…” School Library Journal
“A gentle telling...” Horn Book
“A special treat for grandchildren and grandmas.” Kirkus
“The Klise sisters (Little Rabbit and the Meanest Mother on Earth) have once again hit the nail on the head…” Publishers Weekly
“Beating the winter chill and warming hearts are the themes in the Klise sisters' darling tribute to knitwear and holiday giving. . . . The Klises consistently sound notes of tenderness and humor.” Publishers Weekly, starred review on Shall I Knit You a Hat?
“The Klise sisters team up to show that the giving is just as important as the gift.” The New York Times on Shall I Knit You a Hat?
Children's Literature - Mary Hynes-Berry
Two sisters have teamed up in this lively tale of Grammy Lamby who arrives for a visit and swoops down on her little grandson Larry. Larry learns her secret handshake is meant to let him know Grammy loves him but he is more than a little intimidated by her. She's very energetic and a trifle overbearingmore inclined to repeat herself a few times than to wait for Larry to respond to her plan to take him off on a visit to Tanzania or to teach him to sew. All this leaves Larry waiting for her visits to end. However, when a terrible storm descends and leaves the house in shambles, Grammy Lamby stays for a month, energetically fixing things and going on to sewingwith Larry's helpfor other storm victims. The story and illustrations are playful; however the best thing about this book is the way it acknowledges that it is possible not to be perfectly comfortable with a relative, especially if what you feel is overwhelmed and embarrassed. However, in time, the traits that seemed too much may turn out to be exactly what is needed and turn uneasiness to love, as it does for Larry and Grammy Lamby. Reviewer: Mary Hynes-Berry
School Library Journal
PreS-K—The artwork is the strength of this selection. Created with acrylics in soft earth tones, the images of a young lamb and his family at home and about town with a bevy of other critters are absolutely adorable. The story does not have the same intense appeal. Larry thinks Grammy Lamby is annoying and rejects her gentle efforts to bond with him via a "secret handshake" when she visits. She appears to be a traditional grandmother, drinking tea and sewing, but she springs into action after a storm and helps repair the roof of her family's home, assists with rebuilding a school and church, and sets up her sewing machine in the town square to make items for those in need. This all sounds exciting, but the text lacks sufficient development to avoid an odd, albeit unintended, implication. It's only after Grammy has performed these feats that Larry warms up to her, so the takeaway seems to be that it requires extraordinary measures to gain another's affection and admiration (when everyday demonstrations of love should be enough). The jacket synopsis touts the story as an example of the time it takes for "little ones to fall in love." The illustrations are lovely; the story is a misfire.—Alyson Low, Fayetteville Public Library, AR
How embarrassing! Grammy Lamby is coming to visit, but one little lamb is anything but pleased. Larry is continually rattled by his grandma, what with her secret handshake (which means "I love you"), her flouncy church clothes and loud voice and her extravagant plans for future travel (what if he doesn't want to go?). Warm and appealing acrylic paintings with just the right amount of detail show Larry's quiet distress and Grammy's abundant character as she visits the Lamby home. Grammy is patient and kind despite her eccentricities, and when a summer storm frightens Larry and damages the house, fearless Grammy steps in and helps with comfort and repair. Maybe Grammy isn't so embarrassing after all! How can Larry show her what he feels? Between a new secret handshake and a surprise that Grammy can open on the train, he is certain to find a way. While providing a nice acknowledgement of Larry's feelings, this decidedly un-pedantic selection is replete with affection and gentle humor, from the simple text to the beguiling illustrations, and shows how feelings and perspectives can develop and change. Sister team Kate and M. Sarah Klise collaborated here and share some of their own grandma memories on the sleeve in this paean to embarrassing but wonderful grandmothers everywhere. A special treat for grandchildren and grandmas. (Picture book. 3-7)