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IN MY GRANDMOTHER’S HOUSE by Bonnie Christensen


Award-Winning Authors Tell Stories About Their Grandmothers

edited by Bonnie Christensen & illustrated by Bonnie Christensen

Pub Date: April 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-06-029109-5
Publisher: HarperCollins

Stories from Pat Cummings, Minfong Ho, Jean Craighead George, Alma Flor Ada, and other award-winning children’s and young-adult writers tackle a topic that transcends race, ethnicity, and culture: grandmothers. Some are tributes to the unconditional love, courage, and talents received from grandmothers. Some pay homage to their sacrifices, such as Ji-Li Jiang’s “To My Nai Nai” in which the author recounts her grandmothers’ arranged marriage, young widowhood, decision not to remarry, and dedication to her grandchildren during the difficult Chinese Cultural Revolution. Others see their grandmothers in a new light, as real, even sexy, women as in “The Naked Truth,” by Cynthia Letitch Smith, who wonders about the identity of the carved, naked lady in her grandparents’ basement. When authors could choose between grandmothers, some, rather than writing about their doting grandmothers, opted to write the more painful story. In “Granny Was a Gambler,” for example, Beverley Naidoo pieces together the life of her grandmother before she was locked away in a mental institution in South Africa and became a dark family secret, and in “The Best Parts,” Joan Abelove attempts to understand her grandmother’s emotional detachment, especially during the family’s most trying times. This collection, with compiler Christensen’s (Woody Guthrie, 2001, etc.) dry-point illustrations, inspired by the authors’ own photographs, becomes a record of adversity of the women who forged paths when fewer opportunities were available to their gender. For both authors and readers, it is also a process of understanding from where we came and where we are going. While all of the contributions are deeply moving, they do not all work as children’s stories. Most require an adult perspective to be appreciated fully, so don’t limit this to the children’s collection. Share it with women of all ages. (Short stories. 12 )