Thursday, April 19, 2012

Her first book was such a delight...needed to share

Nana’s Getting Married. Heather Hartt-Sussman. Illustrated by Georgia Graham. Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2009. 32 pp., hardcover, $19.99. ISBN 978-0-88776-911-5. Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7. Here an excerpt from this wonderful book: "Nana was the best grandma in the world, until she met Bob. She baked me chewy chocolate chip cookies and let me eat the dough. She knitted me mittens and socks and turtleneck sweaters with snowflakes on them. She told me stories at bedtime that always had happy endings. But ever since she met Bob, everything has changed…" In Nana’s Getting Married, life has thrown the young narrator a truly wicked and completely unanticipated curve. His cookie-baking, socks-and-sweater-knitting, story-telling grandmother has found herself a boyfriend! What a metamorphosis her little grandson has to put up with. Now Nana goes out on dates, dresses in fashionable clothes and even puts on make-up! In fact, every facet of Nana’s exciting new life elicits one of two comments from little Mr. Nose-Out-of-Joint: ”Gross, I say” or ”I, for one, do not approve!” However, none of the six-year-old’s efforts to split up the two works out. Despite the stamping, the pouting the whining and the sulking, Bob keeps coming back for Nana. It takes some hugging and chatting with Nana, as well as a request for her little grandson to be a ring-bearer at her wedding that finally leads him to state emphatically, on the last page: “… I, for one, approve.” Nana’s Getting Married is Heather Hartt-Sussman’s first book, and she has done an excellent job of finding the voice of a six-year-old mightily aggrieved little boy. Her tone is exactly right to convey to young readers the emotional devastation that the young narrator is feeling as he perceives his grandmother’s dereliction of duty. Georgia Graham is an extraordinary artist who has illustrated several children’s books, including another book in which a wedding is central, The Lime Green Secret. Her chalk pastel depictions are bright, bold and decidedly quirky. They bring the characters, setting and action of Nana’s Getting Married to life of in a way which not only complements the subtle theme of the text but also guarantees delight and amusement to readers of all ages. She is particularly adept at portraying the characters’ emotions via their facial expressions. It is a pleasure to find a picture book whose strong message is matched with a light touch. Adults will enjoy repeating the small narrator’s reactions to Nana’s new life (appearing in bold print format on the bottom of most pages) with young listeners. Discussions of grandmothers, growing up and the green-eyed monsters will surely be on the agenda after a reading of Nana’s Getting Married. Highly Recommended. Top honours and Canadian to boot! Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Permission granted to me to use this review and it is an excellent one. Read on, read always.
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