What do you call your grandma? by Ashleigh Barton and Martina Heiduczek

cover image

A heart warming celebration of the grandmothers in people's families, a person known by all sorts of names whether they live with the family or another place entirely, loved and esteemed by everyone.

In rhyming stanzas the text outlines a hymn to a grandma, one called Nai Ni who loves to cook sweet things, another Yia Yia whose house is all of music, or Jaja who sings her every step.

Each double page celebrates a grandma from a different culture, so the name is one from another language, underlining the point that a different name means the same no matter what language is used. So Kui, Ba Now, Bibi and MeeMaw all mean grandma somewhere in the world. And each is part of the rhyming sequence in the stanza, encouraging children to predict rhyming words as the story is read.

What each double page does spectacularly well is give reference points to the different cultures where that word is used.  Readers will delight in seeing kids and their grandmas in such diverse settings, and look closely at each of the panoramas taking in the detail. From shadow puppets on the wall, to vistas of white houses on the Mediterranean Sea, winding wool for a rug, sitting beneath an olive tree, donning a kimono while it snows outside, each different culture is evoked through the illustrations. I love the way the children are often pictured interacting with their grandma: winding wool, cooking, playing on a seesaw, driving, reading, writing letters etc. Grandmas are not shown as static, but active and the child connected and responsive.

And at the end of the book is a page outlining where that particular word is used and by what peoples, very handy!

This is a lovely book, full of interest and variety, reinforcing the diversity that is our world, where a word, no matter how different, means the same in every language - love and family.

Themes: Love, Family, Grandparents, Language, Diversity.

Fran Knight