Granny’s Kitchen by author Sade Smith and illustrator Ken Daley

Reading Age: 3 – 6 years

Grade Level: Preschool – 1

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Publication Date: July 12, 2022

On the Caribbean island of Jamaica, when a young girl named Shelly-Ann gets hungry, she asks her grandmother to make a Jamaican dish. Each time, Shelly-Ann’s grandmother shows her how to make a meal, Shelly-Ann’s cooking is faulty i.e. too soft, mushy, burnt, salty. One day the grandmother is too tired to cook so the girl demonstrates her independence in the kitchen and cooks her grandmother a breakfast that isn’t as good as her grandmother’s but considering that this is only Shelly-Ann’s second time cooking the foods, they both find the meal tasty. Children and adults will appreciate the child’s determination to be as good of a cook as granny but it will take practice as it took granny many years to perfect her culinary skills. There are 4 recipes included for fried or boiled dumplings, ackee, saltfish and fried plantains. Additionally fun facts about Jamaica are added at the back of this picture book. Illustrations are eye-catching and suit the story. Due to the added recipes, an older child could definitely benefit from this book.

Clean Getaway by Nic Stone

Reading Age: 9 – 12 years

Grade Level: 3 – 7

Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: January 7, 2020

In this middle grade novel, an 11 year old boy nicknamed Scoob has his share of school related problems. Additionally, he is mixed heritage and brown skinned with a white or pale skinned grandmother. They adore each other. Grandmother takes Scoob on a roadtrip through southern states and educates him about 1960’s events related to the African American experience. Grandmother relives a trip that could not be completed with Scoob’s grandfather in the 1960s because he was a brown skinned man and society frowned upon mixed relationships. The author unravels a grandmother who would be respected anywhere because of skin color but with a life lived of poverty and continuous criminal activity. Readers learn that she educates her grandson about racism but contributed to it in her past. Scoob’s dad who was reared by only his mother now is rearing Scoob singly. Interesting reading to keep pages turning. Text is appropriate for this targeted age group. Black and white illustrations dispersed throughout give eyes extra facts and details to look at. A good class discussion book. Looking forward to a sequel.

When Lola Visits by author Michelle Sterling and illustrator Aaron Asis

Age Range: 4 – 8 years

Grade Level: Preschool – 3 years

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Book

Publication Date: May 18, 2021

Readers and viewers experience life through the senses (mainly smell) of a girl from Philippine ancestry. Her summers are filled with scents of stone fruit, jasmine, fingerpaint and trouble until grandma (Lola) arrives from the Philippines. Lola adds scents to the air of mango jam, sampaguita, dried squid, milk candy, wooden beads, cassava cake, suman, sisig, kalamansi pie, lumpia, kamayan, stuffed milkfish to name many. The storyteller also adds scents that are more common to the masses such as chlorine at the pool, tennis balls, sunscreen, salty swimsuits, limes, garlic, fireworks, warm summer rain, cherry ice cream cones and freshly sharpened pencils. Illustrations are vivid on a white background. Happiness throughout the visit and sadness during the departure are seen but the girl adapts as the story transitions to a new school year. My Book Eyes enjoyed this picture book with the addition of another culture to enlighten about diverse and shared experiences.

Out Into the Big Wide Lake by author Paul Harbridge and illustrator Josee Bisaillon

Reading Age: 4 – 8 years

Grade Level: Preschool – 3

Publisher: Tundra Books

Publication Date: May 18, 2021

From the start readers and listeners will notice that Kate is trying to remember the differences between alphabet letters. Shortly therafter we learn of Kate‘s mother’s reluctance to allow Kate to spend the summer alone with her grandparents. Kate has Down syndrome. Her grandmother convinces Kate’s mother to let her go. Kate’s grandfather delivers groceries by boat. Immediately Kate is introduced to her grandparent’s occupation as she accompanies the delivery trips. Her grandmother teaches Kate to steer the boat. When grandfather gets sick, Kate takes the reins and makes grandfather’s deliveries. My Book Eyes likes seeing the perception of Kate change to someone who can take on more responsibilities than society may have thought she could. Varied illustrations add information to this story . This is an Ezra Jack Keats Best New Writer Award winner for 2021.

Nana Akua Goes to School by author Tricia Elam Walker and illustrator April Harrison

Reading Age: 4 – 8 years

Grade Level: Preschool -3

Publisher: Anne Schwartz Books

Publication Date: June 16, 2020

This is a heartwarming story about a girl named Zura who is uneasy about bringing her grandmother, Nana Akua, to school for Grandparent’s Day to discuss what makes her special with Zura’s diverse classmates. Nana Akua has facial markings called Adinkra symbols that the other grandparents do not have and Zura is worried that her classmates will make fun of her grandmother. Readers learn that Nana Akua, born in Ghana was given those marks as a child to represent the tribe that her family belongs to as well as to symbolize beauty and confidence. Dressed in African clothing and armed with a quilt decorated with Adrinka symbols, the two head to school. Nana Akua comfortably discusses her culture and gets the students and other grandparents involved by allowing them to choose symbols from the quilt that she paints on their faces. My Book Eyes appreciates the way Nana Akua uses a hands on approach to include others in her cultural experience. Illustrations are ladened with texture with some items representing African culture sprinkled throughout Zura’s home. A terrific picture book to educate people about culture.

Max and the Tag-Along Moon by Floyd Cooper

Reading Age: 3 – 7

Grade Level: Preschool – 2

Publisher: Puffin Books

Publication Date: March 15, 2015

Upon leaving his grandpa’s house, Max notices the moon. Grandpa assures Max that the moon will always shine for him. On the long car ride home, Max watches the moon. When the moon hides behind clouds, Max feels alone. The moon will not always shine for him. Once Max climbs into bed, the moon brightly shines again and Max is satisfied. This story resonates with many. Who has not followed the moon as a child? Mr. Cooper’s illustrations are beautiful. His talent will be missed.

Jade’s Secret Ingredients: A Recipe for Managing Feelings by author Ashley Finley and illustrator Agia Putri

Reading Age: 2 – 10 years

Publisher: Jj Carson Press LLC

Publication Date: May 15, 2021

Jade likes baking with her Granny. As all bakers know, things don’t always turn out as planned. Granny shares nine special ingredients that are not found in cookbooks. The ingredients are tips about behavior to help Jade get through the baking process. Her tips are applicable to many events and activities that people partake in. Three of her nine secret ingredients are: keep trying, have fun and ask questions. Readers and listeners will often return to this picture book for Granny’s wisdom, I mean secret ingredients. Illustrations are warm and depict a range of emotions.

Sunday Shopping by author Sally Derby and illustrator Shadra Strickland

Age Range: 4 years – 8 years

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Publication Date: May 15, 2015

This picture book brings together three generations in an evening of simulated shopping. Evie and her grandmother create scenarios that allow them to buy items that they see in newspapers from a variety of vendors. While the mother is not in attendance, her presence is felt when we learn mom is in the army and when Evie pretend purchases gifts and places them near mom’s photo. Dialogue between grandmother and Evie is warm and leaves readers with good feelings. Illustrations are bright and contrasting making details easy to see. This book introduces it’s audience to a fun activity that can be enjoyed repeatedly using different newspapers, magazines and ads. Activity enthusiasts could also paint or draw shopping items or head to the internet and copy and paste interesting items for computer based collages. A nice way to include money management skills.