My Grandma and Me by Mina Javaherbin, illustrated by Lindsey Yankey [in Shelf Awareness]
For a little girl growing up in Iran, her grandmother is her beloved conduit to the rest of the world. “I followed her everywhere,” she explains. “When she swept, I swept. When she cooked, I cooked. When she prayed, I prayed like her, too.” Without overt announcement, the family’s Muslim practices are revealed through namaz (prayers) at dawn, iftar (post-sunset meal) during Ramadan, and a lively gathering at the mosque. Girl and Grandma also share best friends who live down the hall. Their differences might seem obvious – one grandmother with uncovered silver hair, the other in a white-with-purple-flowers chador; one girl who attends church, the other a mosque – but the intergenerational, mutual enjoyment never wavers. Grandma, meanwhile, stays forever constant, “kind, generous, and full of love,” encouraging the girl’s imagination and out-of-this-world determination.
In Mina Javaherbin’s (Neymar) autobiographical My Grandma and Me, the grandmothers build a nurturing world for the next generation, with safe spaces from which to launch. While the girls play hopscotch, the grandmothers make quilts that will keep strangers warm, donated through their respective mosque and church. While the girl writes, Grandma sews gorgeous chadors … that the girl will later drape “on the table to build [a] rocket ship” or turn into a magical “super-astro-explorer” cape. Artist Lindsey Yankey’s (Sun and Moon) soft, detailed art, reminiscent of Grace Lin’s illustration, is a splendid complement to Javaherbin’s loving homage. Yankey’s intricate designs enhance every texture – rugs, clothing, home furnishings – inviting closer observations and encouraging deeper interaction and understanding. Decades after playdates and coffee klatches, what lingers longest are the binding memories of unwavering, accepting love.
Discover: Mina Javaherbin’s autobiographical picture book draws inspiration from her Iranian girlhood and the many ways in which her beloved grandmother taught her about caring and love.