My GrandMom (Gee-eun Lee)

Hello, friends! First, let me apologize for the recent inconsistency in our reviews – as the fall semester has worn on, we are having trouble posting in a timely manner. Please be patient with us, and we will hopefully be back to our regular schedule within the next few weeks.

But for today, we wanted to bring you a review of the delightful and touching My GrandMom, written and illustrated by Gee-eun Lee and translated by Sophie Bowman, a tender look at the special relationship between grandmothers and their grandkids.

Based on the author/illustrator’s experiences with her own GrandMom – or Halmoni – the reader quickly learns that little Gee-eun and her Halmoni have a special bond. When Gee-eun is upset, Halmoni can soothe her with warm comfort food and fantastical stories. When Gee-eun worries that her mother won’t be able to attend Family Sports Day, Halmoni assures her of the elder’s grace and athletic ability. Yet when the two compete at the aforementioned event, Halmoni and Gee-eun are not able to win the race. Still, Halmoni does what GrandMoms do best: finds a way to turn the day around with kindness, love, and a comforting snack.

Equal parts entertaining and touching. Lee’s personal connection to the work shines in every facet, from the strikingly realistic details of the interactions between Gee-eun and Halmoni, to the whimsical and warm childlike illustrations. To me, the best part is how the story manages to show that Halmoni is human and imperfect while also illustrating what a special place she holds in Gee-eun’s life and heart. It’s a honest look at our relationships with the people we love; sometimes they try their best but let us down, still we love them all the same. The length is fine for a storytime, and JJ loved the combo of peaceful story and lively illustrations. Overall, a lovely treat, and we recommend it – Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by a representative of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Hey Grandude! (Paul McCartney)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Hey Grandude!, written by Paul McCartney (yes, THAT one) and illustrated by Kathryn Durst, a playful adventure tale with a magical twist.

On a dreary, humdrum day, Lucy, Tom, Em, and Bob are bored and listless. That is, until their grandpa – affectionately called “Grandude” – appears with a handful of postcards and a compass. Inviting his “Chillers” (grandkids) along for an adventure, Grandude is able to use the compass to whisk all five of them away to a sunny tropical beach, to play and sun the day away by the shore. That is, until an invasion of punchy crabs appears. Staying positive, Grandude uses postcard-and-compass to transport them to a dusty cowboy frontier, but it’s not long until their adventure there is interrupted as well! Third time’s the charm? Or perhaps not! No matter though – Grandude is there to get the kids back home safely and get them settled in for bed after a day of adventure and peril… before taking a well-earned rest himself.

Strange yet sweet. The legendary McCartney’s first children’s book hits the mark in a lot of ways: the series of misadventures are entertaining for little ones, and the gentle care of Grandude towards his Chillers at the end will warm adult hearts. A few of the jokes fall flat, but the dialogue and text is paced well and fun to read. The illustrations are especially standout, including the nice choice to make the family members racially diverse; a small detail, but a wonderfully welcome one. The action scenes are particularly well-done, managing to be exciting and compelling without veering scary. The length is okay; better for slightly more patient bookworms, but not overly long. JJ enjoyed this one, and we recommend it. Baby Bookworm approved!