Bring to mind your favorite play times with your grandparents as a child—the ones that really make you smile. Now, multiply by ten to imagine Silly Frilly Grandma Tillie (Flashlight Press 2012, ages 5-7).
Older sister Sophie and her little sister Chloe are up to their eyeballs in fun with their Grandma Tillie after mom and dad leave.
Worm chili for dinner? Or roasted snake toes? There are bubble beards and conga dancing, jokes and juggling, songs and silliness— Grandma Tillie arrives with a bag of tricks disguised as her knitting.
Their evening debuts with the Tillie Vanilly Show (starring grandma in bright pink hair), moves on to Chef Silly Tillie serving dinner, and Madame Frilly Tillie managing bath time. Although “managing” is not really what Grandma Tillie does—every activity, no matter how mundane, is injected with humor and creativity.
Author Laurie A. Jacobs and illustrator Anne Jewett leave out the age stereotypes and highlight games and silliness as powerful forces for equality between the generations. I often forget this as a parent—grandparents do seem more skilled in that area! The illustrations are a wonderful mix of drama and coziness. We always know that underneath the playfulness there is Plain Grandma Tillie looking out for her girls.
Silly Frilly Grandma Tillie received the Gelett Burgess multi-generational award for family-friendly children’s books. Laurie A. Jacobs also authored So Much in Common and the award-winning A Box of Candles. This book is dedicated to both of her grandmothers.
Next Steps in Challenging Ageism:
Reading this fun-filled picture book, another “positive aging” book came to mind—Secrets of Becoming a Late Bloomer: Staying Creative, Aware, and Involved in Midlife and Beyond. Authors Connie Goldman and Richard Mahler interviewed dozens of Late Bloomers and share their secrets for filling later life with growth and pleasure.
Grandma Tillie most definitely embraces the Secret of Humor and the Secret of Creativity. The authors remind us that while we’re told to “act our age” many times as we mature, laughter and frivolity are actually good for our health.
Late Bloomers “know life is more positive when it includes a healthy dose of levity, a wry dose of fun, and an appreciation of the absurd.”
Creativity is often associated with making a product such as a painting, but Secrets of Becoming a Late Bloomer advocates that “creative grand-parenting” is especially important when families have been radically changed by social and technological forces. My own kids lovingly recall how Grandma limited the TV and built forts with them indoors and out.
My grandparents lived thousands of miles away, so silly times with them were extra special—Grampy chasing us with his electric razor and Gran dancing in her lacy nightwear. My sister and I rolled on the floor, weak from laughter. Those were bonding moments, just as important as the tender letters we exchanged on a regular basis.
“Being creative often involves taking a stance toward life that allows every act, no matter how mundane and familiar, to become fresh and interesting.” Hear, hear Grandma Tillie!
And here’s a lovely quote sent to me by a reader, “Life will be rewarding when you dare to make the most of it and challenge those who try to keep you from realizing even your loftiest of dreams.” (From an article by Toby Milstein in The Daily Beast. See the fascinating video also!)
Read more about Secrets of Becoming a Late Bloomer here.
Do you have memories or examples of creative grand-parenting to share? Or other picture books with fun-loving grandparents?
Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of this book. I was not required to write a review and I received no payment for this post.