Soros, Barbara. Grandmother's Song. Illustrated by Jackie Morris. Barefoot, 1998. ISBN 1-9022-8302-3. $15.95. 32 pp. A 3-7 PB Reviewed by Irene Halliday Gentleness, dignity, and peace flow out of this book from the first page. Grandmother and Granddaughter live out their lives in the mountains of tropical Mexico, close to the soil, the natural creatures, their little village, and the nurture and wisdom of generations of warm family relationships. Granddaughter is young, delicate, and fearful of anything new and strange. She often runs home trembling. Grandmother holds her close and lovingly strokes her hair and back as she quietly sings and speaks words of encouragement. As the seasons pass, Grandmother's love, comfort, and exemplary teaching transform the fearful granddaughter into a compassionate, generous young woman, who now cares not only for her own children, but for her aging grandmother as well. When Grandmother dies, Granddaughter is devastated. She must learn to feel the presence of Grandmother in a new way, and teach her children that “no matter where we are, grandmother is never far away.” Grandmother's Song is a book that can be appreciated in many ways and on many levels. A sense of timelessness pervades not only the text, but also the warm watercolor illustrations. Soft earth tones, fused with the dramatic use of line and attention to details of furnishings and architecture, visually immerse the reader in Mexican rural culture. It celebrates the Mexican people's deep belief in the eternal life of the soul and the importance of values and family. The Mexican setting does not hinder the reader's ability to identify with the feelings of a granddaughter and respond to the love and comfort of a grandmother. When tested on children ages eight to thirteen, a nine-year-old boy's favorite part of the book was Grandmother's stroking and calming. All children need the quiet, loving comfort and sense of family support that this story portrays so well. Adults and teens, as well as older elementary school children, will be drawn to the peace and legacy of Grandmother.
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