When I imagine grandparent-hood, I think of the sweetness of regular interactions with a young child dear to my heart. But in reality, like the granddaughter and grandparents in Butterfly Kisses for Grandma and Grandpa (Blue Whale Press 2008; ages 3-8), millions of grandparents do not live in the same city or even the same state as their grandchildren, and like me and my grandparents, many are separated by thousands of miles.
This award winning picture book by Alayne Kay Christian, illustrated by Joni Stringfield, portrays a grandmother empowered to take action (Independent Publisher Book Award and Mom’s Choice Award.) She finds a way to maintain that special sense of closeness in her relationship with her granddaughter who lives far away. She is sad, but not pitiable, and uses her imagination to find creative ways to connect.
Author Alayne Kay Christian has experienced firsthand the frustrations of saying goodbye repeatedly to a beloved grandchild. She invites readers to “use their own experiences in everyday surroundings as a bridge to connect with faraway family members.”
In the book young Emily stays with her beloved grandparents in another city and enjoys being a little spoiled—staying up late, skipping a bath, jumping on the bed, and eating sweets. Sorrow comes when it’s time to pack her bags to leave. “I wish I could sleep over anytime I want,” she cries.
This picture book is somewhat unusual in that BOTH grandparents are portrayed–I realized recently that this is actually a rare thing! They are active, healthy, and enjoying life. Also, the child does not solve the problem herself, although she is an active participant generating ideas with her grandma.
Cuddle time in the garden brings some relief. Butterflies inspire butterfly kisses all around and Grandma gifts her with a book made just for her—one that shares ways to use things they notice in nature to feel close after she leaves.
I love how the author brings nature into the mix. My most precious memories of my mother’s mother are from time in her garden.
Did you know a drop of water on a nasturtium leaf will roll around like a tiny pearl?
And the flowers drooping from a fuschia could be fairies with frilly skirts?
The author’s website has numerous resources for grandparents:
- A video that shows how to use interactive sounds and motions with younger children as they read the book.
- A list of “15 Ways to Use Nature to Connect Across the Miles”
- Links for art projects that parents or grandparents might do with children
- An article–MAKING PEACE WITH BEING A LONG-DISTANCE GRANDPARENT.
I would like to add Rachel Carson’s beautiful book The Sense of Wonder as a resource. It pairs nature photography by Nick Kelsh with her account of endearing nature adventures with her young nephew. (She is famous for her groundbreaking environmental book Silent Spring.) The Sense of Wonder might inspire you to wake your sleeping child or grandchild just to gaze with you at the harvest moon from the porch.
Read about another book featuring BOTH grandparents: The Hello, Goodbye Window .
Book photos courtesy of author Alayne Kay Christian.
Please consider signing up for blog posts 2X/mo. via RSS or email. Thank you!