Where is Grandma? by Peter Schossow
Gecko Press (NZ), 2017. ISBN 9781776571543
(Age: 5+) Highly recommended. Hospitals, Humour, Grandparents. This beautifully evocative picture book about a child trying to find his grandmother in a large busy hospital, is not only a wonderful tale of discovery, but it tells readers why a hospital exists and shows the range of people, staff and procedures that a hospital contains. Henry becomes lost when he goes inside the huge place while his nanny talks on the phone. He knocks on many doors, some of which he opens to talk to the person inside. He talks to a heart surgeon, sees a newborn baby, a woman with dementia, a man injured in a car accident, the worker in the basement and finally the security officer who takes him to Grandma's room.
Younger readers will want to see him reunited with Grandma as he weaves his way through corridors and lifts and lunch rooms, the maternity ward and surgery all on his own.
The gentle humour will appeal to a wide audience and many adults reading will have a giggle at the literary references within the text. First published in Germany with the title, Wo ist Oma, the book has been republished by Gecko Press in New Zealand and distributed by Scholastic.
The illustrations cover the double pages, showcasing large parts of the hospital, the view from the outside, the view from the corridor over an atrium, a few hints of the outside, the long corridors and intimate rooms. On each page we see another aspect of the hospital through Henry's eyes.
I love the range of people shown, from young to old, infirm and able bodied, staff and patients, a range of ethnic variations, all attesting to the diversity shown in our society and in particular, Germany.
Funny incidents occur: meeting his classmate with a bean up her nose, the woman in the lift thinking he is her son, George, the man concerned about his friends waiting for him, seeing Mr Munchberger surrounded by food. Henry decides that Grandma is in good hands after finding out so much about the working day in a hospital, and promises he will not get lost again.
At once a cautionary tale about running off from one's nanny, the story exposes young readers to the working life of a hospital and will encourage them to talk about going to these places with humour.