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The Miscellaneous Club > February 2020: Grandparents/Senior Citizens

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message 1: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (last edited Jan 27, 2020 02:46PM) (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2479 comments Mod
In February, we will explore the relationships between children and their grandparents or non-related senior citizens. The following are a few suggested middle grade novels. If anyone has any other suggestions, please share.

Grandparents:
The Eyes of the Amaryllis by Natalie Babbitt (1977)
Louisiana's Way Home by Kate DiCamillo (2018)
Genevieve's War by Patricia Reilly Giff (2017)
As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds (2016)
Grandpa's Great Escape by David Walliams (2017)

Senior Citizens:
Shanghaied to the Moon by Michael J. Daley (2007)
Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff (2004)
Fishbone's Song by Gary Paulsen (2016)
Valentine Queen by Marci Peschke (2014)
Mr Stink by David Walliams (2010)


message 2: by Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish, Newbery Club host (last edited Jan 27, 2020 03:32PM) (new)

Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6446 comments Mod
Wonderful!
Well, this topic thread has a lot of suggestions, too:
https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

It's a huge theme in picture-books, too. I particularly love, for example, Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge. And there's the whole series of leveled readers, Mr. Putter & Tabby Pick the Pears etc.
I look forward to reading from the list of suggestions as many as I can find. :)


message 3: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2479 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Wonderful!
Well, this topic thread has a lot of suggestions, too:
https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

It's a huge theme in picture..."


Yes, there are tons of picture books on the grandparent subject, but I didn't want to overlap the picture book club too much. Of course I am overlapping somewhat the fiction club. If anyone can think of any relevant non-fiction, please share on this thread.


message 4: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2479 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Wonderful! And there's the whole series of leveled readers, Mr. Putter & Tabby Pick the Pears etc...."

That's an excellent suggestion since we don't have a club for leveled or beginning readers.


message 5: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 1813 comments I'm sure I can come up with suggestions soon when I look through my bookcase.


message 6: by Manybooks (last edited Jan 28, 2020 08:14AM) (new)

Manybooks | 7691 comments Mod
Grandparents

Heidi (a classic)
Train I Ride (although grandmother has just died, she is a constant presence)
Gangsta Granny (title looks fun)
The Fourteenth Goldfish
The Third Mushroom

(both of the above feature a curmudgeonly scientist of a grandfather who has somehow turned himself young again and even more obnoxious)


Senior Citizens

Astrid the Unstoppable (best friend of protagonist is a senior citizen)
Lotta Makes A Mess! (the neighbour with whom Lotta is friendly is an elderly woman)


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6446 comments Mod
Oh I adore the Lotta books! I wish that they were more widely avl in the US. I read Heidi a few years ago and was surprised by how much I liked it... I feared it would be too didactic and/or treacly but it wasn't much, plus it had a lot of fun adventures etc.
I'll investigate the others you suggest, too.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6446 comments Mod
There are also some YA books about teens and grandparents. At least a couple have a newly-licensed teen rescuing a GP and taking them on one last road-trip or mission. If you want, I can try to remember the titles.


message 9: by Manybooks (last edited Jan 28, 2020 08:13AM) (new)

Manybooks | 7691 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Oh I adore the Lotta books! I wish that they were more widely avl in the US. I read Heidi a few years ago and was surprised by how much I liked it... I feared it would be too didactic and/or treacl..."

I loved the Lotta books in German, but Lotta Makes a Mess which seems to be a British translation, I have had my issues with. I know that there is supposed to also be an American translation available but I have not been able to find a copy. You should still read this but I just do not find the British translation all that good.

According to Abigail, the American translation is called Lotta on Troublemaker Street. Not sure if the book is in print but likely worth checking out.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6446 comments Mod
Oh, can't forget one of my treasures, Ultra-Violet Catastrophe! Or, The Unexpected Walk with Great-Uncle Magnus Pringle! Lots of pictures, but hand-sized for independent readers.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6446 comments Mod
Manybooks wrote: "Cheryl wrote: "Oh I adore the Lotta books! I wish that they were more widely avl in the US. I read Heidi a few years ago and was surprised by how much I liked it... I feared it would be too didacti..."

I found that I do own this. I'm not sure exactly what edition, but it is in English and the illustrations are by Iklund, not Tony Ross. It's in a bin in the closet so I don't care to dig it out, but I could. I *think* it's this one: Lotta on Troublemaker Street by Astrid Lindgren . Which, btw, the Swedish (?) w/ that cover is on openlibrary.


message 12: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7691 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Manybooks wrote: "Cheryl wrote: "Oh I adore the Lotta books! I wish that they were more widely avl in the US. I read Heidi a few years ago and was surprised by how much I liked it... I feared it wo..."

The fact that the British translation did not feature the original illustrations really bothered me.


message 14: by Melissa (new)

Melissa | 7 comments One not to be missed is the awesome The Runaways by Ulf Stark, published in English just last year. A perfect short novel for Strong 3rd grade readers through sixth. It centers on a boy and his cantankerous grandfather and in my opinion is magic, with great colored pencil illustrations. Works well as a read aloud.


message 15: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2479 comments Mod
I have read The Fourteenth Goldfish and Astrid the Unstoppable, and liked both.
I have also read A Long Way from Chicago and A Year Down Yonder. Both were hilarious! I remember reading part of one to my grandmother, and she was ROFL.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6446 comments Mod
For the link, The Runaways. Looks like a good one for MG. I just requested it. I'll look into the others suggested, too.


message 17: by Manybooks (last edited Feb 02, 2020 08:31AM) (new)

Manybooks | 7691 comments Mod
In my humble opinion, one of the sweetest and still very relevant for today novels with simply wonderful and positive depictions of loving and caring grandparents is Johanna Spyri’s classic Heidi.

For not only are there three main grandparent characters depicted by Spyri (Heidi’s grandfather, Peter’s grandmother and Clara’s grandmother), all three of them (while of different temperaments and social status, and with Peter’s grandmother definitely also being rather frail health wise) totally and absolutely love and cherish Heidi, and while the grandfather and the two grandmothers are obviously much supportive and loving towards Heidi, Heidi is always also equally loving and sweetly tender towards them (and with especially Peter’s blind grandmother, Johanna Spyri through Heidi shows how just some basic acts of kindness, such as a few coins for better and softer more easier to chew bread, how a better sleeping arrangement and above all Heidi reading hymns to Peter’s grandmother, which she can no longer due because she is blind, can make all the difference and totally brighten life).

And finally, Heidi also features some very positively depicted senior citizens. The Frankfurt doctor who arranges for Heidi to be able to return to her grandfather when it becomes obvious that she is being both physically and emotionally destroyed by homesickness is elderly, and after his visit to the alps after the death of his daughter, Heidi not only brings back the doctor’s joy of living, the doctor then decides to move to the village, to share the care of Heidi with the grandfather ( and later, Heidi will be taking care of both her grandfather and the doctor, as she sees both as equally her family and her responsibility), not to mention that the village pastor is also a very positively depicted elderly individual, and one who very much appreciates both Heidi and her grandfather and how after the grandfather has given up being a curmudgeonly alpine hermit, both Heidi and the grandfather do much good in the village (with Heidi teaching Peter to read, the grandfather making sure Peter does not skip school and that Peter’s family home receives necessary carpentry work).


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6446 comments Mod
Ah, yes, I was surprised, when I read this just a few years ago, how readable, relevant, and enjoyable this book still is.

I especially appreciate the theme you mentioned about how just a little tlc can make such a difference in people's lives - soft bread and a volunteer reader for the grandmother... social services should be made aware of such.


message 19: by Manybooks (last edited Feb 02, 2020 09:26AM) (new)

Manybooks | 7691 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Ah, yes, I was surprised, when I read this just a few years ago, how readable, relevant, and enjoyable this book still is.

I especially appreciate the theme you mentioned about how just a little t..."


In quite a number of Canadian university cities, they are creating programs where undergraduate female university students are moving in as roommates with single older women. It works surprisingly well, and both parties seem to benefit.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6446 comments Mod
Oh lovely! I would absolutely participate!


message 21: by Manybooks (last edited Feb 02, 2020 08:26PM) (new)

Manybooks | 7691 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Oh lovely! I would absolutely participate!"

They have had wonderful stories of real and long term friendships emerging and the students taking their roommates to the movies etc. and the seniors teaching their roommates how to cook, how to knit etc.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6446 comments Mod
Welp, I've now read Louisiana's Way Home. Soap opera for young MG students who are still struggling to read.

The MC is 12 but the writing is short sentences, easy words. no poetry. The plot has no sense or coherence. My disappointment in DiCamillo is confirmed. I have no idea why this treacle attracts so many fans.

And I need to stop writing about the book because now I am starting to write like the author did in it.

Blegh.


message 23: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 5947 comments Mod
Beverly wrote: "Yes, there are tons of picture books on the grandparent subject, but I didn't want to overlap the picture book club too much. "

Thanks, Beverly. This is such an important subject, I'm so glad to see it here. I'll have to see if I can think of anything to add to the list in terms of novels.

(FWIW, I second Cheryl's recommendation of the Mr. Putter & Tabby Pour the Tea books ;-> )


message 24: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 5947 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Oh, can't forget one of my treasures, Ultra-Violet Catastrophe! Or, The Unexpected Walk with Great-Uncle Magnus Pringle! Lots of pictures, but hand-sized for independent readers."

And, yes, this, too! :-)


message 25: by Manybooks (last edited Feb 06, 2020 07:55AM) (new)

Manybooks | 7691 comments Mod
By the way, books about grandparents and their relationships to children do not always have to be positive or optimistic. L.M. Montgomery’s Jane of Lantern Hill for example presents a grandmother as its main villain and who is truly nasty and mean in every way towards her granddaughter Jane and also insanely jealous of the fact that her own daughter loves Jane, loves her daughter (and the grandmother actually is so jealous that in fact any love shown by Robin, by Jane’s mother towards Jane is in the grandmother’s eyes seen taking her daughter’s affection away from her). And while the grandmother in Jane of Lantern Hill is definitely a bit extremely depicted by Montgomery, she is also not a character completely unrealistic as yes, there are indeed individuals (including grandparents) who are jealous of children and who also think that being nasty and overly critical towards children is good training.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6446 comments Mod
Good point, Gundula. I won't seek out those books for myself, but it's reasonable to include them in collections, because some children do unfortunately have problematic r'ships w/ their grands.


message 27: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7691 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Good point, Gundula. I won't seek out those books for myself, but it's reasonable to include them in collections, because some children do unfortunately have problematic r'ships w/ their grands."

And sometimes, grandparents can be loving but still problematic and have their own issues. And I do enjoy novels where grandparents are not necessarily just sugar and spice and everything nice.


message 28: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (last edited Feb 07, 2020 03:33PM) (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2479 comments Mod
Valentine Queen by Marci Peschke

This was a cute, sweet story. It is, what we in the library profession call, a transitional book. It is somewhere between a beginning reader and a middle grade book. So it is short--only 105 pages--with large type and many illustrations. In this story, Kylie's family is planning a 50th anniversary surprise party for her grandparents. In her class at school (either 3rd or 4th grade, I don't remember), the teacher approves Kylie's suggestion that her class visit the elderly folks at a nursing home. So, this book has both grandparents and seniors who are not relatives.


message 29: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (last edited Feb 07, 2020 03:44PM) (new)

Kathryn | 5947 comments Mod
Beverly wrote: "the teacher approves Kylie's suggestion that her class visit the elderly folks at a nursing home. So, this book has both grandparents and seniors who are not relatives. .."

That's great. I mentioned in our PB thread, but for anyone who didn't see it there, the animated children's series based off the "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" books often features senior citizens. They are active in society and often seen at various community events or the community center. None of them are related to the main characters yet there are positive interactions with the children. I don't remember ever seeing seniors in the books, so I think this is a really nice addition in the television series. Most of the time if there is a senior in movies or tv for children it is a grandparent or similar type figure so this is a welcome change.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6446 comments Mod
I loved Astrid the Unstoppable and the adventurous hero(ine) determined to heal her community. Wholesome and 'green' but not vegetarian... very Norwegian. I don't have words, just feels, though. Recommended especially for ages 7-10 and their families. I certainly would have loved it when I was a young girl. I'm giving it four stars.


message 31: by Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish, Newbery Club host (last edited Feb 08, 2020 06:03PM) (new)

Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6446 comments Mod
That's neat that a tv series added a valuable theme.


message 32: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 1813 comments Astrid sounds cute and would interest niece #1 if she'd read anything but graphic novels. She loved Pippi when she was younger.


message 33: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7691 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "I loved Astrid the Unstoppable and the adventurous hero(ine) determined to heal her community. Wholesome and 'green' but not vegetarian... very Norwegian. I don't have words, just f..."

I find it refreshing that in much of Scandinavian children’s literature, there is such a casual and natural acceptance of young children being friends with older adults and this not automatically being considered potentially inappropriate (for example, in Linnea in Monet's Garden, young Linnea’s solo trip to Paris with her elderly and equally plant and art loving next door neighbour is totally and naturally sweetly described but yet, there are quite a few English language reviews that are literally freaking out that Linnea is travelling alone with her neighbour and sharing a hotel room, something that in Europe would never be an automatic issue).


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6446 comments Mod
Ok, Fishbone's Song is a bit weird, imo. I found it difficult to decode, more difficult than poetry, for the first two thirds. And then the boy started to actually explain what was going on. I think that Paulsen was trying to show how a young child doesn't understand much but just goes along absorbing stuff to bring up later to ponder and work out.

But for a book marketed to age 9-12, a book likely to be rec'd to male 'reluctant readers.' it doesn't seem to me the best strategy. Lots of people underestimate children's ability to see ideas and themes; I'm not speaking to that. I'm saying that the awkward/ poetical phrasing her is just difficult to parse.

Well, it was to me. Probably it would help to be a slower reader. Or to read it aloud, or hear it aloud. Or maybe to be more familiar with the cadence of the people's speech in this setting. (Where is it set?) Or to be more familiar with Paulsen's writing.

Also I was disappointed that the dog didn't figure more prominently, as implied by the cover.

Also I have to offer the content warning of lots of hunting. Yes, a distinction is made between hunting as a naturalist or photographer would, and hunting to kill. And yes, if you kill it you eat it. And you kill in such a way as to be quick, with "less flopping." But still I know that some families would have to brace themselves to learn about this way of life.

I dunno what to think of the book yet. I'll have to think on it, I suppose. Atm, I'm not even sure that the boy and the old man are friends, that this qualifies for an 'intergenerational friendship' story; it's more like the boy is a student... almost like Karate Kid or something.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6446 comments Mod
Otoh I enjoyed The Runaways and believe that the target audience would too. I don't like the illustrations at all, and I think the translation was awkward in a couple of places, and I wanted to get to know the dad better. But overall it delighted me just as much as the blurb promised it would. Four stars.


message 36: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (last edited Feb 14, 2020 09:31AM) (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2479 comments Mod
Grandpa's Top Threes by Wendy Meddour

This picture book was a 2020 American Library Association Notable Children's Book. Grandpa has been grieving the passing of his wife, and grandson, trying to cheer him up, begins asking what his top three things are: top three jellyfish, top three sandwiches, top three zoo animals, etc. The story is sweet and the Greek illustrator's renderings are different and interesting. He depicted the zoo elephant as tall as a giraffe or T-Rex.


message 37: by Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish, Newbery Club host (last edited Feb 14, 2020 09:21AM) (new)

Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6446 comments Mod
Oh that sounds appealing! And I see it's by Candlewick Press, and I love almost all that I read from them.


message 38: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2479 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Otoh I enjoyed The Runaways and believe that the target audience would too. I don't like the illustrations at all, and I think the translation was awkward in a couple of places, and..."

I read this one today. It was a fast read (for an avid reader, anyway), and I also enjoyed it. I agree about the illustrations--really not to my taste at all--and Ronny-Adam, the baker/mechanic looked like he had measles instead of being freckled. However, I thought the story was great. It was sort of sad that Gottfried Junior understood his grandfather better than his dentist father understood his own father, Gottfried Senior. And sort of sad that Gottfried Junior was the one who had to help his grandfather with his wish to see his home again, because his dad simply did not want to bother. I did like that Gottfried Senior decided to try and act much more civilly towards everyone and to monitor his language better.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6446 comments Mod
If there were a sequel or a fanfic, I bet we'd get to know the dad better and feel more empathy towards him. As is, it's too bad he gets short shrift. Kids aren't stupid; they're going to wonder what's up w/him, too.


message 40: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 1813 comments Book Uncle and Me Book Uncle is a retired teacher. It's unclear how old he is but compared to the little girl, he seems quite old.

Some of the American Girls have close relationships with grandparents
Lea Dives In and Lea Leads the WayLea was very close to her late grandmother and is inspired by her grandmother's memory on a family trip to Brazil.

Grace Makes It Great Grace and friends work to save her grandparents' bakery

Saige works with her grandmother to plan a grassroots effort to bring back art and music to her school.


message 41: by Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish, Newbery Club host (last edited Feb 15, 2020 01:33PM) (new)

Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6446 comments Mod
I actually have read Book Uncle, so thank you for the reminder. I actually gave it five stars, because that's the rating I use to signify "everyone should read this." Iow, I really love the themes. :)


message 42: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 1813 comments Cheryl wrote: "I actually have read Book Uncle, so thank you for the reminder. I actually gave it five stars, because that's the rating I use to signify "everyone should read this." Iow, I really love the themes. :)"

I loved the themes too but not so much the writing. I do wish nieces would read real books sometimes and not solely graphic novels. I'd see what they think.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6446 comments Mod
Indeed.


message 44: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (last edited Feb 16, 2020 07:38PM) (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2479 comments Mod
The Eyes of the Amaryllis by Natalie Babbitt
I noticed a few similarities between this book (published in 1977) and The Runaways. The granddaughter bonds better with her grandmother, than her father with his mother.
Grandmother lives by the sea and has for 50 years. But since her husband's ship went down with all hands 30 years ago, she has been obsessed with waiting for a sign from him from the sea. She recently broke her ankle, thus Jenny's visit in order to help her while she recuperates. But Grandmother enlists Jenny in her search of the seashore for a "sign" from her husband.
The writing is excellent, with hints that one of the characters might be a ghost. The characters are well-drawn, come alive on the page, and their actions and motives are believable. The book never says where the story takes place, but the granddaughter and her father are from Springfield, possibly Massachusetts (my guess). The year is never given, but it is set in a time when people had to use buggies and horses for transportation.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6446 comments Mod
Thank your for reminding me that I have this on my tablet ready to read. Babbitt's fantasies are among my favorite books so I don't want to miss this!

I have not yet found Gangsta Granny but meanwhile I read David Walliams's The Boy in the Dress to get an idea of his writing style, to see how hard I want to search for Granny. Boy is a light book, lots of humor, excellent illustrations by Quentin Blake (surprisingly expressive, given his scribbly style). It's never revealed that our 12 yo boy is 'queer' in any sense at all, but rather it's more like he just thinks dressing up is fun. Even his dad and brother figure out that it's ok. Everything's rather facile, but considering the target audience I don't have a problem with that.

So, I'm guessing that Granny would be a pretty light & easy read, too. Not terribly important or fully satisfying, but def. worth reading.


message 46: by Manybooks (last edited Feb 19, 2020 07:07AM) (new)

Manybooks | 7691 comments Mod
Although with Train I Ride, the grandmother is actually deceased, I have nevertheless found her an important character (and one that also recurs), as Ryder the main protagonist and narrator keeps remembering her and as the train ride progresses more fondly remembering her (that while her grandmother kind of thought of Ryder and having to take care of her after her mother’s drug overdose death a burden, she did take adequately care of her granddaughter and at the end of the train ride from California to Chicago, I don think that Ryder is even a bit willing to forgive both her mother and grandmother for the destructive behaviours that ended up killing both of them and leaving her abandoned, intravenous drug use for the mother and cigarette smoking for the grandmother).


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6446 comments Mod
Sounds kinda dark for me, nonetheless your comments make me more interested in reading it!


message 48: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2479 comments Mod
Shanghaied to the Moon by Michael J. Daley
This was an enjoyable space opera of a story in which a thirteen year old boy, Stewart, is talked into going on a mission to the moon with a space pilot, who is at least the age of his grandparents. Stewart's pilot mother died in a space shuttle crash, but he still wants to be a pilot himself one day, anyway, and he hopes this trip to the moon will be his ticket to the Space Academy. The story holds several plot twist, turns, and revelations. The characters are interesting and believable. For anyone who likes old-fashioned space adventures, ala Robert Heinlein.


message 49: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7691 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Sounds kinda dark for me, nonetheless your comments make me more interested in reading it!"

It is a really lovely story, even if it deals with heavy themes.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6446 comments Mod
Beverly wrote: "Shanghaied to the Moon by Michael J. Daley
This was an enjoyable space opera of a story in which a thirteen year old boy, Stewart, is talked into going on a mission ..."


Space Opera for kids? Count me in!


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