After Jillian’s mom gets married, Jillian finds herself with a Brand-New Bubbe in Sarah Aronson and Ariel Landy’s vivacious picture book.
Jillian’s new Bubbe has glorious curly red hair, a mean jump shot and an upbeat attitude. Yet despite Bubbe’s fabulousness, her new stepgrandchild refuses to be charmed. Jillian already has plenty of loving women in her life: her mom; her grandmothers, Gram and Noni; and her great-grandmother, Mama-Nana. So why, Jillian wonders, would she need one more?
Faced with her daughter’s standoffishness, Jillian’s mom reminds her that “family is more than blood.” Jillian reluctantly agrees to be open to Bubbe’s overtures. Matzo ball soup turns out to hold the key, as an afternoon of cooking with Bubbe melts Jillian’s defenses. After all, who can resist a soft, fluffy matzo ball bobbing in a bowl of steaming, delicious broth?
But as she spends time with Bubbe, Jillian questions whether embracing Bubbe will leave her other grandmothers feeling left out. Several sips of soup later, Jillian realizes the perfect way to bring her whole family together. Spoiler alert: It involves more soup.
Landy accompanies Aronson’s playful prose with a clever subplot-in-pictures: Jillian’s cat initially gives Bubbe’s dog serious side-eye, but as Jillian warms to Bubbe, their pets bond too. It all culminates in a gathering of family, food and love. Three detailed soup recipes and a collection of resources for interfaith families end Brand-New Bubbe with a chef’s kiss. Mazel tov and bon appetit!
Rashmi Sirdeshpande and Ruchi Mhasane offer a quietly moving tale of love, loss and community in Dadaji’s Paintbrush.
In a small village in India, a little boy and his grandfather live in a house surrounded by lush trees and colorful flowers. The inside of their home is a wonderland of color, too, thanks to their artistic endeavors. Dadaji has spent countless hours teaching his grandson to paint. Some days, the pair paint together, just the two of them, while other days, they’re joined by children from the village. Grandfather and grandson are constant companions in a sweet, serene life filled with everyday marvels and expressions of love.
And then one day, the boy is left all alone. Gifted, empathetic illustrator Mhasane drains the color from the boy’s life, surrounding him instead with a palette of grays. Just one small spot of red remains: a little box that contains Dadaji’s favorite paintbrush. But the boy cannot bear to look at it, so he puts it up on a high shelf and turns away from art in an attempt to spare his aching heart.
Color makes a tentative reentry when a little girl comes knocking on the door and asks the boy to teach her to paint. Will the boy let the girl into his home and his life—and open himself up to carrying on Dadaji’s legacy?
In an author’s note, Sirdeshpande explains that Dadaji’s Paintbrush was inspired by her relationship with her late grandfather. “That feeling that the people you love will always, always be with you? That’s just how I feel,” she writes.
Together, Sirdeshpande and Mhasane have created a touching exploration of how love can deepen and grow, becoming generous enough to include others and strong enough to allow our memories to comfort and sustain us.
A Grand Day
A kaleidoscope of family fun swirls through A Grand Day, a lively grandparentstravaganza of cuddles, laughter and imagination.
In rhyming text, Jean Reidy salutes the magic of days spent with grandparents. She begins with cheery let’s-go-have-fun hugs, then progresses through a range of shared activities. The possibilities are creative (chalk painting, gardening, baking), athletic (yoga, cartwheels, dancing) and even a little mystical (magic tricks, attic expeditions, a starlit campfire). Reidy spotlights lower-energy pursuits for more laidback types, too, such as relaxing by a pond, reading and napping—crucial recharging for marshmallow-toasting time!
Illustrator Samantha Cotteril’s fascinatingly detailed and immersive 3-D artwork offers a dazzling array of elements that will reward repeat reads. Every page has a dioramic vibe, with impressively engineered cut-paper sculptures that range from massive trees to minuscule sticks of sidewalk chalk. There are patterns and textures galore, and loads of depth and color. You’ll marvel at intricate wallpaper, wooden benches, hungry cardinals descending on a bird feeder and more.
Throughout the book, characters revel in sharing their favorite endeavors, highlighting the importance of learning from one another: “Try a two-step, maybe ten. / All that’s old . . . is new again.” Vibrant elements of nature appear on every page, with sheltering trees, a backyard garden or a pond dotted with lily pads paying homage to the wider cycle of life. Reidy’s text encourage appreciation and contemplation of the world around us: “Salute the sun. / Soak in the breeze.”
A Grand Day is a visual feast of a book that will inspire readers to cherish hugs, kisses and time spent with people they love.
I’ll Go and Come Back
In Rajani LaRocca and Sara Palacios’ warmly engaging I’ll Go and Come Back, a young girl named Jyoti forges an endearing, affectionate relationship with her grandmother, Sita Pati. She learns that, when there is love, the miles cannot truly separate us.
Jyoti is excited to travel with her parents from the U.S to India, but when they arrive, she is disoriented by how different everything is, from the humid air and noisy streets to the relatives and friends that fill the family home. She’s especially lonely when her cousins leave for school each day.
But Sita Pati is at home during the day, too, and despite their language barrier (Jyoti knows only a few Tamil words, and Sita Pati doesn’t know much English), she coaxes Jyoti into having fun. They play games, create intricate rangoli designs with colored sand, dress up and cook together. Every night before bed, they sip warm milk with saffron. Gradually, their shared pursuits become their common language.
When Jyoti’s visit ends, Sita Pati helps her to see their parting not as something permanent, but rather as part of a larger continuation. “I remembered that no one in India just said ‘goodbye,’” Jyoti reflects. Instead, they say poitu varen, which means “I’ll go and come back.”
Happily, the two reunite when Sita Pati visits America the following summer. This time, it’s Sita Pati who feels out of place and Jyoti who shares her favorite activities: sidewalk chalk instead of rangoli, quesadillas instead of chapatis, and drifting off to sweet dreams after mugs of hot cocoa.
Palacios’ illustrations showcase the beautiful textures, patterns and colors of their homes, making for a captivating visual experience. She expertly conveys an astonishing range of emotions through faces comprised of simple lines and shapes. The hopscotch court that Jyoti and Sita Pati draw on the sidewalk outside Jyoti’s house incorporates floral elements similar to those in the rangoli design they made together in India, a lovely parallelism.
I’ll Go and Come Back provides an affirming perspective on our relationships with loved ones. Instead of focusing on our feelings of sadness when they depart, why not embrace the anticipation of their eventual return?