In My Grandmother's House: Award-Winning Authors Tell Stories About Their Grandmothers

Overview

In this unique collection, twelve of today's most acclaimed children's book authors take us on a journey to the grandmothers' houses of their memories. Some of the stories are sweetly nostalgic. Others are heartbreaking stories of difficult, or even absent, grandmothers. But each celebrates the sometimes warm, sometimes tense, always special relationship between grandmothers ...

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Overview

In this unique collection, twelve of today's most acclaimed children's book authors take us on a journey to the grandmothers' houses of their memories. Some of the stories are sweetly nostalgic. Others are heartbreaking stories of difficult, or even absent, grandmothers. But each celebrates the sometimes warm, sometimes tense, always special relationship between grandmothers and their granddaughters.

A tribute to the women who shape our families and our lives, these are stories to read, to share, and to treasure.


About the Author

Bonnie Christensen has illustrated many books for children, including woody guthrie: Poet of the People, which Kirkus Reviews called "Strong and beautiful . . . A powerful, lyrical tribute to the musician whose music is so much a part of our lives." Ms. Christensen came up with the idea for In My Grandmother's House, her first book for HarperCollins, at a writers' conference when she and several other authors started exchanging "grandmother stories." She lives in northern Vermont with her daughter, Emily.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In My Grandmother's House: Award-Winning Authors Tell Stories About Their Grandmothers, ed. by Bonnie Christensen, presents a dozen recollections, including Minfong Ho's feelings of leaving her Ah Po behind to move to upstate New York ("I have moved so far away from her, strayed way off-center, when I settled into this spot half a world away from... where I grew up"); Alma Flor Ada's sensory memories of visiting her Cuban-born Abuelita, the smell of her grandmother's perfume and the taste of fresh milk, still warm in the pail; and the wit and wisdom of Jean Craighead George's maternal grandmother, who lived by the axiom, "A bed made at once saves time in the crunch" (as her grandmother begins to go blind, George writes, "What she lacked in vision she made up in insight"). Christensen's drawings act as openers for each chapter. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
The idea for this book grew from a writers' conference Ms. Christensen attended. Suddenly a discussion became a storytelling competition about grandmothers where everyone eagerly shared a story or two. She was so enchanted by the stories and the intense interest they evoked that she began to think of compiling such stories in a book. Of course there are some sweet, loving memories here, but the book offers so much more. Joan Abelove in the author's note following her chapter says she started to write about Grandma Sophie who was fun and warm and full of life. But she chose instead to write about her Grandma Leah who was not warm, not fun, and had led an uneventful, boring life but Ms. Abelove's story about her is in no way boring. One of the most moving chapters is "Rhizomes" by Mingfong Ho, who grew up in Bangkok. She remembers her grandmother, An Po, speaking to spirits of dead loved ones. Within her story of different times and cultures, closeness and separation, love and spirituality she speaks to An Po as An Po addressed her ancestors. Chapters written by award-winning children's authors including Beverly Cleary, Jean Craighead George, Gail Carson Levine and nine others are followed by an author's note about its story. The book concludes with biographies of the twelve authors who have generously shared worthy memories. The publisher says the book is for ages 8 to 12. I was dubious about how much a child would enjoy it. So I asked a 10-year-old friend to read any one chapter then tell me if he felt he would like to read more. He said he liked the chapter, but he didn't ask to keep the book any longer. This book will appeal to many adults. It could be a thoughtful gift for a mother, agrandmother, or actually, anyone who ever had a grandmother. 2003, Harper Collins Publishers,
— Janet Crane Barley
VOYA
Gambling, mental illness, aging, posing naked, death, condescension, strength, lessons learned, loss, fondness, regret, visits, and avoidance are words that describe twelve authors' memories of their grandmothers. They reminisce, analyze, question, and contemplate their pasts. Whereas most anthologies include fiction, this collection contains real memories with some embellishments. Some stories read like a stream of related or unrelated recollections while others focus on one event. Some are tributes, and others probe for answers. The most entertaining contributions are Cynthia Leitch Smith's The Naked Truth, in which a granddaughter discovers that the nude figure painted in the basement is her grandmother, and Gail Carson Levine's A Visit to Grandma's, as a granddaughter speaks out about her grandmother and her great aunts' disrespect of her mother. Beverly Cleary, Jean Craighead George, and Joan Abelove are just some of the authors included. Because adults are writing about their own childhoods here, adult readers might relate better to the stories. The stories are about a time in the past, the majority have no twists or surprise endings, and contemporary readers might lose interest. Readership will be primarily women because only female authors profile their grandmothers. The collection could be used as part of an author study or as a writing prompt for young authors to discuss their own grandmothers. This source would be excellent in a lesson on intergenerational relationships. Readers will be inspired to recall memories of their own grandmothers or to pay better attention to potential memories before they are forgotten or before those moments are lost. PLB
— JenniferBromann
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-This collection of short stories, all by granddaughters, is really a collection of memories, with some liberties taken. Many of the writers were able, often for the first time, to see their grandmothers as women of a different time who profoundly influenced their lives. The 12 selections are moving in many ways. An old painting in the basement allows Cynthia Leitich Smith to see her grandmother for who she really is, and to see herself in a new light as well. Minfong Ho shows how her grandmother's life in Singapore, so completely different from her own in upstate New York, is still so strongly connected. Diane Stanley uses her grandmother's own words to describe a very unusual childhood. Beverley Naidoo pieces together a picture of the mentally ill grandmother she met briefly before her death. Ji-Li Jiang and Alma Flor Ada share stories of women who were politically and socially active until their deaths. Each story (except for Beverly Cleary's) is followed by a brief author's note bringing a bit more insight to the story. Simple but evocative pen-and-ink drawings suggest old family photographs rescued from a dusty album. While this anthology features characters who are several generations removed from today's readers, many of the concerns are universal and the appeal should be broad.-Susan Oliver, Tampa-Hillsborough Public Library System, FL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Stories from Pat Cummings, Minfong Ho, Jean Craighead George, Alma Flor Ada, and other award-winning children's and young-adult writers tackle a topic that transcends race, ethnicity, and culture: grandmothers. Some are tributes to the unconditional love, courage, and talents received from grandmothers. Some pay homage to their sacrifices, such as Ji-Li Jiang's "To My Nai Nai" in which the author recounts her grandmothers' arranged marriage, young widowhood, decision not to remarry, and dedication to her grandchildren during the difficult Chinese Cultural Revolution. Others see their grandmothers in a new light, as real, even sexy, women as in "The Naked Truth," by Cynthia Letitch Smith, who wonders about the identity of the carved, naked lady in her grandparents' basement. When authors could choose between grandmothers, some, rather than writing about their doting grandmothers, opted to write the more painful story. In "Granny Was a Gambler," for example, Beverley Naidoo pieces together the life of her grandmother before she was locked away in a mental institution in South Africa and became a dark family secret, and in "The Best Parts," Joan Abelove attempts to understand her grandmother's emotional detachment, especially during the family's most trying times. This collection, with compiler Christensen's (Woody Guthrie, 2001, etc.) dry-point illustrations, inspired by the authors' own photographs, becomes a record of adversity of the women who forged paths when fewer opportunities were available to their gender. For both authors and readers, it is also a process of understanding from where we came and where we are going. While all of the contributions are deeply moving, they do not allwork as children's stories. Most require an adult perspective to be appreciated fully, so don't limit this to the children's collection. Share it with women of all ages. (Short stories. 12 )
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060291099
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
  • Publication date: 3/6/2003
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 195
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.08 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction IX
The Naked Truth 1
Rhizomes 13
The Grannies 35
The Doctor's Daughter 51
Grandma and Her Needle 67
A Visit to Grandma's 77
And Then Another Locust Came and Took Away Another Grain of Corn 93
Granny Was a Gambler 109
Fairy Grandmother 127
To My Nai Nai 143
The Best Parts 157
My Abuelita, My Paradise 175
Biographies 187
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