Cute animals, sweet thoughts and loving ways inform the pre-school crowd about the various names for grandparents in English, Hebrew and Yiddish. Jewish holidays and customs form the setting for all but one example of tenderness. The targeted readers, ages 3 to 6, will find the situations amusing and comforting. The book is a back-to-back or flip volume, half for grandpa and half for grandma. Animal grandmas appear as grannies, nanas, savtas, bubbes and grandmothers. In order: elephants remember grandchildren’s names (trite, but readers are 3!), chimpanzees bake challah, kangaroos dance horahs at Hanukkah, dogs deliver Purim baskets, giraffes do mitzvot with soup and bunnies make seders for crowds. Grandfathers (sabas, zaydes, papas, grandpas) are equally hands-on. Llamas blow shofars, quails and snails bake kugels, zebras parade for Israel Independence Day, porcupines help make matzah, and groundhogs dig holes for Tu Bishvat trees.
Of course grandparents, whatever their names, do these things; animals do not. But animals run the gamut of adorable to adorable and always sell in children’s books — so voila! The main point is that these loving animal/adults interact with cute animal/children no matter what you choose to call them. This sets a tone for our children, a tone of love that carries into a myriad of Jewish settings and names. The text rhymes without too much strain. Active illustrations in muted jewel tones explain the words beyond a shred of doubt. All in all this book sweetly indicates that when warm feelings arise from kind actions all names are perfect (the glossary explains the words in each language) and grandparents rule. Ages 3 – 6.
Ellen G. Cole, a retired librarian of the Levine Library of Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles, is a past judge of the Sydney Taylor Book Awards and a past chairperson of that committee. She is a co-author of the AJL guide, Excellence in Jewish Children’s Literature. Ellen is the recipient of two major awards for contribution to Judaic Librarianship, the Fanny Goldstein Merit Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries and the Dorothy Schroeder Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries of Southern California. She is on the board of AJLSC.