Remember the Hallmark commercial that said whatever the situation, there’s a card for that? It certainly seems that way now with celebration days. Have a fondness for teddy bears? There’s a Teddy Bear Day. How about brownies? Did you know there’s a Brownie Day? How about Houseplant Appreciation Day? There’s even a Pet Rock Day! Of course, many of them are meant to be quirky and fun, while others serve to memorialize significant events. On September 7 we have National Grandparents’ Day, which I’ve always thought to be another “made-up” fun day for grandparents. A further look into it reveals that in 1978 President Jimmy Carter officially proclaimed the first Sunday in September after Labor Day as National Grandparents’ Day. It’s a day to honor grandparents, those walking vessels of wisdom, strength and guidance. There’s even an official National Grandparents’ Day song! Who knew?
Whilst there are more than a boatload of wonderful, sentimental picture books about the joy and love of grandparents, here are five lesser-known titles that star one or more grandparents, most of them in quirky, smile-eliciting ways.
Grandpa’s Teeth, written and illustrated by Rod Clement (Harper Collins) is an oldie but goodie, and one of my all-time favorites. When grandpa’s dentures go missing, everyone in town is a suspect unless proven otherwise. This book perfectly balances goofiness and hilarity. Clement, an Australian cartoonist, is just as adept at illustrating people as animals. (Edward the Emu, Olga the Brolga, etc.) His quirky illustrations remind me of C.F. Payne’s, although a bit livelier.
My Granny Went to Market by Stella Blackstone and illustrated by Christopher Corr (Barefoot Books) is a Technicolor counting rhyme book. Here, Granny is a jet setter, magic carpet style. She flies around buying wonderful things from all over the world, taking the readers with her along for the ride.
Grandpa Monty’s Muddles by Marta Zafrilla and illustrated by Miguel Angel Diez (Cuento de Luz) is narrated by 7-year-old Oscar, who after seeing grandpa’s memory slipping when he puts a chicken in the washing machine and irons a fish, decides to help by posting sight words all around the house. This award-winning book takes a gentle look into dementia with humor and buckets of love.
The Ultimate Guide to Grandmas & Grandpas by Sally Lloyd-Jones and illustrated by Michael Emberley (Harper Collins) is just that, you need no other. Lloyd-Jones cleverly turns the tables with amusing pointers for kids on how to take care of their grandparents from helping them park their car to running away giggling when they pretend to be monsters and chase you. Just the right touch of sweetness without being schmaltzy.
Last but not least is I Wanna Go Home, by Karen Kaufman Orloff and illustrated by David Catrow (September 25, Putnam Publishing). The tag team that gave us I Wanna Iguana and I Wanna New Room returns with another amusing tale, this time of little Alex, who has been sent to his grandparents at their retirement community while his parents take off for a fabulous vacation. Can you spell B-O-R-I-N-G? But, wait! Ice cream before dinner? Stick ball with grandpa? Maybe hanging out with grandma and grandpa could be fun after all.
So don’t wait, mark your calendar right now: September 7 is National Grandparents’ Day. And get ready to show your grandparents some extra lovin’.