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The Care and Keeping of Grandmas: children's book review

The Care and Keeping of Grandmas

AUTHOR Jennifer Mook-Sang
PUBLISHER Penguin Random House
GENRE Children's Books
RELEASE DATE April 4, 2023
ISBN 978-0735271340

Penguin Random House Canada
Penguin Random House Canada

Grandmas! There are a lot of us about, and sometimes we come to live with you. So, what to do? How to approach such a monumental adjustment in a family?  

You can't do better than reading along with the narrator of this warm and engaging tale about a young girl who puts her heart into making Grandma comfy in her new home. Sometimes her well-meaning efforts go awry, like the time she helps Grandma water her plants, and in the process, both of them get a soaking.  

Burlington author Jennifer Mook-Sang has an interesting approach; yes, this is very much a picture book with a size just right for reading snuggled up together at nap or bedtime.

At the same time, as the young ones are enjoying the pictures of all the thoughtful ways Grandma is being helped to settle in, Grandmas can enjoy a quiet chuckle at the small host's well-meaning efforts that sometimes go awry. For example, when one day, Grandma needs some quiet time, but her small helper feels the need to entertain her with a spot of juggling.  

These dual-levels of storytelling, deftly illustrated in enchanting ink and watercolour pictures by illustrator Yong Ling Kang of Toronto, provide unusual depth to this picture book even if the language sometimes verges into the complex. Discombobulated, for instance! 

Jennifer Mook-Sang was born in Guyana on the shores of the Berbice River and moved to Canada at fourteen, going on to earn two psychology degrees. She never gave writing a thought until she began reading to her own two children and found she enjoyed the experience so much she decided to try writing a book herself.

After many writing classes and a lot of hard work, Speechless, a middle-grade paperback about a boy who really, really doesn't want to give a speech, was published to considerable acclaim, winning the 2017 Surrey Schools Book of the Year Award and shortlisted for many other awards. 

Yong Ling Kang was born in Malaysia, grew up in Singapore, and continues to be inspired by those simple, day-to-day experiences and nostalgia for her childhood. Look closely and notice deft touches from that time in her illustrations.

She has honed her craft through picture books, manga (Japanese comics) and cartoons she has always enjoyed, followed by formal schooling as an animator and working as an illustrator in a publishing company. She now works from her Toronto home.

There are literally millions of picture books for reading and enjoying through bookstores, the local library, family and even friends whose children have outgrown them. Sometimes a slightly tattered family favourite has pride of place on a bookshelf so that it can be enjoyed by yet another generation.

Making books part of a child's life not only feeds their reading skill and imagination but today's accent on diversity, whether of colour or ethnicity, plays a vital role in a small child's sense of self.

The CARE and KEEPING of GRANDMAS by Jennifer Mook-Sang is a children's picture book for ages 3 to 7 and was published on April 4 by Penguin Random House Canada under the Tundra Books imprint. The retail price is $23.99.