Review Blog

May 08 2014

Cycling to Grandma's House by Jac Torres-Gomez

cover image

Ill. by Erin-Claire Barlow. Lulu Publishing. 2014. ISBN 9781483406374.
Luna has a challenge from her teacher . . . 'Find out the most incredible characteristic of being a girl or boy. Then present it to the class on Monday.' But she is flummoxed - what was so special about her that would connect her to every other girl in her town? Knowing she could rely on her to solve the problem, Luna asks hers mother who tells her she does have an idea but 'only the most courageous girl in our town could do a whole project about it.' Luna is intrigued, particularly when her mother says she will have to cycle around town to speak to a lot of women and that it connects not only them but also girls all around the world. And it is then the Luna learns about menarche, a girl's first period, and how different cultures celebrate this critical coming-of-age event.
Luna is excited by the idea and decides to head for her Mexican grandmother's house to find out more. On her way she meets her friends from a host of countries and cultures, and when she explains why she is cycling to Grandma's house, they share their stories of how menarche is treated and greeted. She learns much in such a short trip! When Luna presents her project at school on Monday, she is bombarded with questions, each of which every girl is likely to ask and Luna realises that cycling to Grandma's has been the discovery of a lifetime.
With a granddaughter who is likely to reach this milestone in the next couple of years, I was eager to review a book that addressed an issue not normally featured in a fictional setting. Yes, there are many non-fiction resources available that present the physical facts about menstruation but to find something that addresses the emotional side and could such a great be a conversation starter between mother and daughter is rare. Well-written in a format that straddles the picture book-novel bridge, and beautifully illustrated with bright, engaging pictures, this is a book that needs to be in every library. We need to de-mystify this important event and help our girls to take it as another stride in their journey to independent adulthood, as well as ensuring our boys are informed so they are compassionate rather than embarrassed.
The mission of the team behind this book is to 'empower communities everywhere to understand and address the barriers women face around menstruation'. This book is certainly a step in that direction.
Barbara Braxton

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