In this tender, inviting short book written by a reading specialist, a loving grandmother has wise words for her young grandson when he wishes he were older.
On a walk in the park with his grandmother, an unnamed young boy sees older kids playing basketball and, wanting to join in, he says, “I wish I was big right now.” His grandmother asks him not to grow up too fast, “[b]ecause I would miss the little you.” When he’s not swayed, her response sparks a gentle exchange between the two as they continue their walk through the park. The grandmother points out baby ducklings in a pond, saying they need time to learn to swim and fly. She reminds her grandson of the things that his pet dog was like during his “good growing times” that turned a puppy into “a strong and loving dog.” A toddling little girl they meet with her dad needs time for her legs to grow stronger, something that “will happen as surely as summer follows spring.” The message is hardly unique to the genre, but Biery (Words Aren’t Fair, 2009) imparts this wisdom with warmth and the deft rhythm of simple but expressive vocabulary, giving the book (inspired by her own grandson) lift and life. The dog and boy race “like the wind, the boy laughing as the dog dove into a pile of leaves and chased a squirrel out the other side.” While a little girl pats the dog, “a smile bloomed on her face.” A mother duck “nudged the baby ducks,” and they “slipped into the pond, paddling the water with their feet.” The book’s watercolor and pencil illustrations, by professional artist Maxwell, add modest real-world charm, notwithstanding a few odd proportions and facial expressions. For adults, what comes through between the lines is a sense of wistfulness from both sides: The boy wants to grow up fast; his grandmother doesn’t want him to rush, even as she assures him it will happen “all in good time.”
A gently resonant little book as pleasant as a walk in the park.