Yiayia Visits Amalia by Maria G. Mackavey

Yiayia Visits Amalia

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A grandmother navigates the route from the suburbs to the big city in this book about travel, kindness, and love by Mackavey (The Artist and the Lava Beast, 2013), with illustrations from Johnson.

Yiayia is prepared to visit her granddaughter. After her dogsitter arrives, she gets into her small blue car and drives away from her rural home and off toward the city. She’s soon surrounded by other vehicles, with her car crouched between a yellow school bus and a green-and-red truck, both vibrantly portrayed. Yiayia arrives at the train station, where people crowd the escalators; she hurries aboard the train and finally has a moment to relax. Through Yiayia’s looking at photos on her smartphone, the story reveals that her granddaughter and daughter-in-law are of Korean heritage and that the family is a happy, loving one. When Yiayia reaches Penn Station in New York City, she finds herself surrounded again, and it isn’t until she hails a taxi that she realizes she’s lost her baggage. At the lost-luggage claim, a worker helps her pick out the right blue bag. Observant readers will notice the right bag right away, but they’ll enjoy Yiayia’s fun refrain (“That’s much too round….That’s much too big!”). After recovering her bag, she grabs a taxi and finally makes her way to Amalia’s apartment, where her granddaughter greets her with a warm hug. The story here is slight, but Johnson’s pitch-perfect illustrations bring it to life. It’s exceptional in its diversity, as it clearly indicates that Amalia’s parents are from two different cultures. Children who are interested in modes of transportation will happily pick out several that Yiayia uses, and emergent readers will notice the bold text of “taxi” and “PENN STATION,” which they may sound out as adults read to them.

A wonderful, well-illustrated look at the relationship between a grandparent and granddaughter who live miles apart.

Pub Date: Oct. 7th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-5151-2186-2
Page count: 36pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2016


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