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Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs

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Tommy is four years old, and he loves visiting the home of his grandmother, Nana Downstairs, and his great-grandmother, Nana Upstairs. But one day Tommy's mother tells him Nana Upstairs won't be there anymore, and Tommy must struggle with saying good-bye to someone he loves. Updated with new, full-color illustrations, this classic story will continue to win the hearts of readers of all ages."Children will want to hear this again and again." -- School Library Journal , starred review"A quietly touching story Athat? depicts loving family relationships." -- Publishers Weekly

32 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1973

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About the author

Tomie dePaola

500 books809 followers
Tomie dePaola (pronounced Tommy da-POW-la) was best known for his books for children.

He had a five-decade writing and illustrating career during which he published more than 270 books, including 26 Fairmount Avenue, Strega Nona, and Meet the Barkers.

Tomie dePaola and his work have been recognized with the Caldecott Honor Award, the Newbery Honor Award, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, and the New Hampshire Governor's Arts Award of Living Treasure.

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5 stars
1,659 (52%)
4 stars
963 (30%)
3 stars
430 (13%)
2 stars
77 (2%)
1 star
23 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 286 reviews
Profile Image for PeachyTO.
230 reviews36 followers
July 14, 2021
If there was a story on the list that hits me dead centre of my heart, it’s this one. My son had such a special relationship with my grandmother, so seeing little Tommy fastened in his chair alongside Nana upstairs made me melt.

This heartfelt tale is a tear-jerker, so be prepared before you brandish it at bedtime to an unsuspecting little one. It’s never easy to talk to a child about death, but a simple, beautifully illustrated book like this can be just the thing to assist a child’s understanding of something that we as adults struggle to comprehend. I feel similarly about I’ll Love You Forever by Robert Munsch.

To see the rest of the books on the Top 5 Picture Books about Grandmas, please visit my blog post at Peachy Books here.
Profile Image for Julie Suzanne.
1,902 reviews70 followers
May 7, 2021
This touching story would be an excellent model text for personal narrative writing in the elementary writing classroom. I cried.

Update: I read this the second time aloud to my husband and we both cried. We talked about our grandparents, childhood memories, and shared a precious moment over this book.
Profile Image for Skylar Burris.
Author 20 books231 followers
April 10, 2022
This is a touching story of a boy who visits his nana downstairs (his grandmother) and his nana upstairs (his great-grandmother) every Sunday, only to have both nanas "go upstairs" by the end of the story. I hadn't pre-read it before reading it to my child, and so I hadn't anticipated I would be crying by the end of a short children's book. I am glad to have stumbled on it, however, because I think it's a good book to read to help children in preparation for future losses. The story is simple and gentle and not at all overwrought. Very well done.
Profile Image for Morgan.
807 reviews21 followers
June 29, 2010
I recently checked this out from the library for my best friend's son, who is 2. It's a sentimental book for me, because my grandmother was Nana, and the edition I got from the library was the same we'd bought my Nana years ago. I always remember it being at her house...I read the first page of the book, which reads, "When Tommy was a little boy, he had a grandmother and a great-grandmother. He loved both of them very much" and started crying! I was very choked up for a while, and while I haven't read the book since I was very young, it has a very different meaning to me now, as myy Nana is also the Nana Upstairs...

It's a great book and beautifully written about a boy and his grandmothers. A must-read for anyone with fond memories of their grandparents.
February 12, 2022
Text-to-Self Connection

This book brought back so many memories. This book entails a child's fist encounter with death. In this story, a mother tells her child that people live in our memories forever. This is so true. As a child, death is something that we do not think about and it can be a hard topic to understand. Talking about the wonderful memories as a child is what helped me cope when I lost my grandmother. I was ten years old when she died, and she was my best friend. Now that I am an adult, my mother told me that was one of the most difficult conversations she ever had with me. It was hard for her to tell me that my best friend died. It was so comforting to know that I had many people in my family that I could talk to about my grandmother. People live on in our memories.
Profile Image for Nex.
32 reviews
April 8, 2023
why am i always crying to children's books
2,269 reviews5 followers
October 17, 2008
This is a really nice book for kids about death. Tommy visits his granparents house and spends time with his great-grandmother (Nana Upstairs). Then she dies, and her mother says he can't see her anymore. Later at night, he looks out the window and sees a falling star. His mother says it is a kiss from Nana Upstairs.
The last page shows Tommy as a man and says that his grandmother (Nana Downstairs) died. He sees a falling star and knows that now she is also "Nana Upstairs".
I like this book because it is not preachy. It is open-ended enough that you can share you own beliefs, whatever they are, with your child.
Profile Image for Melanie Kyer.
Author 1 book5 followers
January 25, 2013
My son brought this home from the library randomly, and we read it tonight. It's a beautiful and timeless book (very sweet old fashioned illustrations) but I wasn't completely prepared for how emotional I would get. I should have suspected something from the beginning, but I just dived in and then found myself struggling to read the ending without breaking up. It's a great book for introducing kids to the idea of the death of a family member, but I have a really hard time reading emotional books, so be careful lest you transmit mt the wrong idea to your kids!!
Profile Image for Chesira Prado.
192 reviews34 followers
May 22, 2015
Qué cuento más lindo. Recuerdo haberlo leído muchas veces cuando era pequeña en la biblioteca del colegio al que iba, pero ciertamente en ese momento no entendía lo que este cuento quería transmitir. Sólo me gustaba.

Es cortísimo y tiene unas ilustraciones muy bonitas, las cuales muestran una historia en la que los niños/as aprenden que llega un momento en que los/as abuelos/as mueren. Y que de pronto, la abuelita de arriba y la abuelita de abajo pasan a ser ambas abuelitas de arriba...
Profile Image for Momm .
505 reviews3 followers
February 28, 2008
This is one of my favorite children's books. I cry at the end every time I read it. It's a nice image to think of Nana's spirit in a shooting star...
Profile Image for Kathy.
2,741 reviews5,976 followers
March 13, 2009
I loved this book. What a sweet story of Tomie visiting his grandmothers as a young boy.
Profile Image for Yessica Vilardi.
Author 1 book30 followers
December 12, 2020
El dolor que produce la pérdida de un ser querido es intransferible y difícil de explicar. Explicar esa ausencia a un niño o a una niña lo hace más difícil. Sin embargo, libros como "La abuelita de arriba y la abuelita de abajo" de Tomie de Paola abren esa puerta que muchos adultos prefieren evadir. Además, la narración encuentra en la belleza poética una forma de explicar la ausencia física de la abuelita, reforzar la presencia del recuerdo y, sobre todo, darle importancia al duelo de los niños y niñas.
179 reviews
February 24, 2018
A story of the author's memories of his grandmother and great grandmother and of the days he learned of their passing.

I used the readalong option with this, and it was much better than it was for the other dePaola book I read - much slower, so a child could follow along.
Profile Image for Emma.
3,929 reviews9 followers
May 17, 2021
Beautiful. That last line, perfect.
Profile Image for wayward wraith.
77 reviews
April 13, 2023
I need to stop with children's books

I miss my grandparents. I love them so much I can't wait to see them again
Profile Image for Kristen.
700 reviews
April 29, 2019
A lovely book about a little boy and his relationship with his grandma and great-grandmother
January 13, 2022
Un bonito cuento infantil, simple y conmovedor de lo que vive un niño que ve crecer a sus abuelos hasta decirles adiós. En este caso a dos abuelitas, la de arriba y la de abajo.

Profile Image for Anna Keating.
Author 12 books38 followers
April 3, 2020
Wonderful book, and the best book that acknowledges the reality of death for littles that I have ever read. Highly recommend. Imagine if we all lived this way. RIP, Tomie.
Profile Image for Eli.
331 reviews15 followers
November 6, 2021
Es una historia que te hace sentir demasiado

Es dificil expresar con palabras lo qye esta historia contiene, los sentimientos que te genera, esa ternura que hay y también la dificil tematica que abarca pero lo hermosamente desarrollada que está.

Me toca fuerte por varios motivos, me trae recuerdos preciosos de mi infancia y una nostalgia impresionante.

El final de la historia lo tengo tatuado, lo viví y lo sentí. En el corazón sin dudas la historia
Profile Image for Laura Brandon.
117 reviews
November 19, 2019
This text provides a considered approach to death and bereavement. It normalises the sadness we experience in grief alongside the young boy not understanding what death is, or what it means. The story is relatable for children with respect to the young protagonist and his perspectives. Death, however is not something to be feared, as people we lose are always with us in our memories, and the shooting stars he sees explicitly represent the people he has lost, as his mother explains to him.
Profile Image for Josiah.
3,211 reviews146 followers
February 9, 2019
There is nothing in literature like the books that Tomie dePaola has written about his family when he was growing up. Speaking for myself in all sincerity, his picture-book family histories have welcomed me into the life he has led as warmly as if I were a part of the family. I feel as if I know Tom, and Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, and all the rest of Tomie's wonderful family as well as if they were my kin, too, and that is truly a special feeling that is hard to fully put into words.

This book steps so delicately upon the walkway of Tomie's youth that its construction is equal to that of the magnificent spiderweb spun by nature's surest architect. The anecdote about Nana Upstairs having to be tied to a chair to keep from falling out and Tommy asking Nana Downstairs to tie him in a chair, too, is one of the best things that I have ever read. The whole experience of knowing Nana Upstairs is made a blessing to us just as it was for young Tomie, and I am amazed by how perfectly he is able to make it all come so vividly alive.

As the hands of time erode the older hierarchy of Tommy's family—including his two Nanas—the story becomes very poignantly emotional, defying the spare number of words to gracefully weave itself around the reader's heart. No one who reads this book will ever forget the older Tommy looking out the window and seeing the shooting star, and the last thought that crosses his mind as the book draws to its close.

Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs belongs in rarified air, among the best picture books that I have ever read. It is a marvelous example of the height to which such a simple story can soar, and how an author's honest emotion can fill our hearts and minds even when few words are used. Tremendous.
Profile Image for Luann.
1,278 reviews117 followers
April 13, 2009
This one makes me cry every time. A great one for helping children deal with the loss of a family member. You can read even more about Nana Upstairs (and a funny story about the mints) in dePaola's book 26 Fairmount Avenue.
Profile Image for Dolly.
Author 1 book643 followers
December 14, 2013
This is a wonderful story about the interaction between multiple generations in a family and the closeness a boy has with his Nanas. Our girls' grandmother lives with us it is heartwarming to see that the memories Tomie has of his Nanas is dear to him. I hope that our girls will have similarly fond memories.
Profile Image for Linda.
851 reviews32 followers
July 26, 2008
Drawing on reflections of his own childhood, Tomie de Paola's Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs is a beautiful story of the circle of life; I feel that it is written in a way to help a child deal with the loss of people whom he loves.
Profile Image for Nakia Arquette.
42 reviews
November 21, 2017
I actually loved this book. I thought the plot of the story was great and kids could relate easily to this. I enjoyed the illustrations and then reading the short dedication at the end about the author's family and his emotional connection to the pictures made me enjoy it even more.
25 reviews
July 28, 2008
not your everyday read aloud! deals with aging and death of elderly relatives in a very respectful manner
Displaying 1 - 30 of 286 reviews

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