Goldie’s Guide to Grandchilding (Clint McElroy)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Goldie’s Guide to Grandchilding, written by Clint McElroy and illustrated by Eliza Kinkz, a goofy guidebook for the care and training of grandparents.

It’s grandparents day at school, and Goldie is more than happy to impart her wisdom on how to care for one’s grandparents. She can acknowledge that they are often silly – and occasionally smelly – but with a little work and a lot of patience, “you will find that grandparents can be loyal and loving companions.” Goldie goes over the do’s and don’ts of playtime, mealtime, exercise, and bedtime. She imparts helpful tips, such as keeping grandparents away from confusing technology and being patient when they ask you AGAIN if you have to use the potty. At the end of the day, grandparents can be a lot of work, but they are more than worth it!

I have some truly mixed feelings on this one. While several scenes are legitimately amusing (such as the idea that grandparents love to feed their grandkids all the things that parents say they can’t have) or tenderly touching (such as Goldie’s grandpa singing her a personalized version of “Rainbow Connection” at bedtime), much of the rest fell flat for me. Part of the problem is that Goldie’s grandpa has a very specific personality type: loud, gregarious, and incredibly fond of potty humor. For kids with this type of grandparent, they would probably get a laugh from this outrageous depiction, but readers whose grandpas are more introverted or fastidious will likely struggle to understand the humor, especially since the guidebook-style storytelling implies that Goldie’s grandpa is model of the average grandpa. Otherwise, the scribbly artwork is delightful and works very well with the theme, the length is fine, and while I am not a fan of potty humor, JJ (like most six-year-olds) is, and I’d be lying if I said she didn’t cackle maniacally at the fart jokes. Overall, I wasn’t a huge fan of this one, but JJ was, and I think a lot of kids whose grandpas share the personality quirks of Goldie’s will as well. I would suggest giving it a quick read before deciding if it’s right for your family, but otherwise, Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Skyfishing (Gideon Sterer)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Skyfishing, written by Gideon Sterer and illustrated by Poly Bernatene, a unique take fantasy, fishing, and family.

When Grandpa moves in with his family in the city, he brings all of his fishing poles. Unfortunately, he quickly discovers what his granddaughter already knew: there aren’t many places to fish in the middle of a bustling metropolis. And while Grandpa tries to find new hobbies, nothing can quite replace his love of angling. So when spring rolls around, the girl has an idea: they will make-believe fish off the fire escape of their apartment. At first, they don’t catch anything at all, but soon they reel in… a plastic bag. They dub it a “flying litterfish”, and their new hobby is born. Together, they spend their time fishing for all manner of exotic city-dwelling fish, from hatfish to laundry eels to their “one that got away”: the subwayfish that lives deep underground. And by summertime, Grandpa is feeling ready to go “swimming” in the big ocean of city life.

Really lovely. While I have one minor complaint – it was unclear whether the pair were actually “catching” and reeling in other people’s belongings, which would be a bit rude – this was such a wonderfully different story with a moving lesson. When the grandfather loses a hobby that he’s clearly quite passionate about, the illustrations subtly show what a huge effect this has on his mood and outlook – a common issue with the elderly. Then, as his granddaughter engages him and encourages their imaginings together, he gains back his vigor. It’s a wonderful way of helping children identify with their older relatives and understand how to connect with them, and really sweet. The fantasy-driven illustrations are colorful and creative, inspiring a real sense of wonder. The length is fine, JJ enjoyed it, and this one was just very cool. Baby Bookworm approved!