A Morning with Grandpa by Sylvia Liu, illustrated by Christina Forshay
Welcome to Gong Gong and Mei Mei’s backyard where movement flows. The elderly Gong Gong “sends good energy through [his] body” with a martial art called tai chi. His feisty young granddaughter Mei Mei hears “martial art” and instantly thinks karate – “HI-YAH”s included – so Gong Gong attempts to both show-and-tell the hopping, bopping Mei Mei how “‘Tai chi isn’t that kind of martial art.’”
While Gong Gong demonstrates “Cloud Hands,” moving like “a warm summer breeze gently blowing through the trees,” Mei Mei’s interpretation is more “frisky fall wind tumbling along the leaves.” When Gong Gong shows “Play the Lute,” moving gracefully like “a musician serenading the sunflowers,” Mei Mei’s version is more “rock star playing for the daisies.” Gong Gong’s “quiet symphony” morphs into Mei Mei’s “drum[ming] the earth with feet and hands.”
Mei Mei learns – enough – and is soon ready to return the lessons, sharing the yoga she’s been practicing at school. In spite of Gong Gong’s initial protestations that yoga is “very hard,” Mei Mei assures him otherwise, and that “[y]oga makes you strong” – muscle flexing added to prove her point.
Mei Mei is “strong and steady” in Downward Dog, although Gong Gong’s pose is a creakier, older version. Mei Mei’s Cat is “like a kitten ready to play,” while Gong Gong “yowl[s] like a startled cat.” Both Gong Gong and Mei Mei have their strengths … And both prove to be “perfect” in each other’s company.
Debut author Sylvia Liu is multi-culti indie press Lee & Low’s latest New Voices Award winner to hit shelves – Grandpa won in 2013, the book itself pubbed this month. Liu’s multi-generational compare-and-contrast narrative is clearly informative as well as cleverly inventive. Her prose, already so rich with playful imagery, gets further enhanced with Christina Forshay’s vibrant illustrations that swirl, sway, stretch Liu’s words into full-color embodiments of a grandfather and grandchild teaching and learning, learning and teaching together. For readers ready to join in, Liu and Forshay present how-to words and pictures at book’s end to help you master your poses – try one, try both, try all …
Smiles, laughter, love grow on each page as the energy flows between humans and nature, dragonflies and bees, and most especially from Gong Gong to Mei Mei (and back again). For a happy, healthy start of any – every? – day, try sharing A Morning with Grandpa …