Emma and Luke have a hard time believing Grandma when she tells them that once upon a time, ``she was a little girl named Norrie.'' Grandma brings her childhood to life, describing the exotic (the organ grinder's monkey, the ice man, the milkman whose horse she fed with sugar, ``right out of her hand!'') as well as the familiar (playing hopscotch, tap-dancing in the alley, feeling lonely in the middle of the night). But Emma and Luke are convinced only when Grandma performs a tap dance. Blegvad's confidence in the power of small, episodic statements informs not just her story but her art. Oval vignettes show details mentioned in the text, like the lumps of sugar in Norrie's palm, or fragments from scenes, like Norrie being read a story by her father. What Blegvad's illustrations lack in complexity, they make up in nostalgic feeling. While hers is not a fresh theme, it is endowed with personal significance and easily shared emotions. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)
Taking Emma and Luke one day to see the apartment house where she lived when she was "a little girl called Norrie," Grandma tells the children many things she did and experienced in the house. Norrie watched the seasons change from her fifth-floor bedroom window, blew soap bubbles on the fire escape, and listened to an organ grinder play music on the street. Emma thinks "Grandma has always been Grandma" and cannot imagine her doing such things until Grandma demonstrates in a surprising way that she really was Norrie--and teaches Emma and Luke something new at the same time. Blegvad's story shows that young children sometimes need proof to make associations between family stories and real people. Emma and Luke feel a stronger connection to their grandmother when they know that she was once small and had feelings like they do. The watercolor-and-pencil illustrations, in sketchy circles of various sizes, are a mixture of bright greens, reds, and yellows, darker blues, and violets, and neutrals. A simple, comforting story of family sharing, especially good for grandparents to read to their young grandchildren.