We have two reviews today of the wonderful Sylvia Liu's debut picture book, A Morning with Grandpa. The first is a video review, which is super short, and the second one is a written review that is a bit longer. So if you're up for a wee movie watch the video and if you're up for something a little more in depth, have a read :)
Because Sunday was the official launch date of Sylvia Liu’s debut picture book A Morning with Grandpa (illustrated by Christina Forshay) and Sylvia is a former student who we’d like to honor both because of how deftly she plays with diversity in this gentle but fun intergenerational story and because Sylvia along with her partner in crime Elaine Kiely Kearns run the wonderfully generous resource site www.kidlit411.com we wanted to share a little about this book and what makes it so lovely.
In A Morning with Grandpa, Sylvia portrays the sweet relationship between a young girl, Mei-Mei, and her grandfather, Gong-Gong (“little sister” and “grandfather” in Mandarin) as they spend a morning exercising in the garden. Mei-Mei is eager to learn Gong-Gong’s Tai-Chi movements adding energetic interpretations to his graceful actions. Full of metaphors and similes, when Gong-Gong teaches Mei-Mei the movement for playing a lute, Sylvia writes, “Gong Gong rocked backward and then forward. One arm went up while the other came down. He was a musician serenading the sunflowers.”
The lower illustration shows Mei Mei rocking an air guitar as Sylvia writes, “Mei Mei was a rock star playing guitar for the daisies.”
Metaphors and similes contrast the personalities and perspectives of this intergenerational pair. Gong-Gong is “a warm summer breeze gently blowing through the trees” while Mei-Mei is “a frisky fall wind tumbling among the leaves.” Alliteration and onomatopoeia make the story fun to read aloud while Christina Forshay’s lively, colorful illustrations show its spirited heart.
Metaphors are lyrical interpretations that are not literally true but wonderfully evocative. Similes are also metaphors but metaphors that specifically liken one thing to another using the word “like.” “Mei Mei twirled like a helicopter seed flying down from a maple tree.” This is lovely to read both quietly and out loud.
Through a flowing dance, Sylvia explores the passing of culture and learning between a grandfather and grandchild. Gong-Gong and Mei-Mei share a tender intergenerational connection that is not immune to the misunderstandings that pop up in any cross-cultural relationship. Like many children unfamiliar with martial arts, Mei-Mei immediately thinks of karate when Gong-Gong describes Tai-Chi as a martial art. This makes the story more realistic, celebrating both the joys and the challenges of their relationship.
The exercises shared between Gong-Gong and Mei-Mei invite children to practice their own movements and poses. This poetic story makes exercise seem sociable, relaxing and fun; not painful or boring like running a mile or doing sit-ups at school! It encourages young readers to expand their understanding of working-out in or being in their bodies in diverse ways. A helpful description of both Tai-Chi movements and Yoga poses at the back of the book shows readers how to try these exercises at home. Any book that gets kids excited about exercising – and spending time with grandparents – is a good one to have on the shelf!
When Mei-Mei flips the tables and begins to teach Gong-Gong some of the Yoga poses she learned in school, Gong-Gong struggles to keep up. The flexible, bendy Yoga poses prove to be more than Gong-Gong’s old bones can handle. In one pose, Mei-Mei is a “guard dog, strong and steady” while “Gong-Gong wobbles like an old dog, creaky at the knees.” Mei-Mei and Gong-Gong must find a way to come together and find balance in their movements and understanding.
Winner of Lee and Low’s New Voices Award, A Morning with Grandpa is a tender and lively tale about the loving bond between grandparent and grandchild, showing that grandparents and grandchildren have much to teach each other.
You can find out more about Sylvia on her website http://www.sylvialiuland.com
And here http://www.enjoyingplanetearth.com where you can also see her delightful art.
We'd love it if you'd please leave a comment and share. Oh and because we're also celebrating picture books, do take a peek at our extraordinary interactive picture book writing course starting May 16th right here http://bit.ly/cbwpb
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