________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 16 . . . . December 16, 2011


Grandpa’s Girls.

Nicola I. Campbell. Illustrated by Kim LaFave.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood/House of Anansi Press, 2011.
32 pp., hardcover, $16.95.
ISBN 978-1-55498-084-0.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.

Review by Leanne Ryrie.

** /4



Hair in pigtails and wispy braids, too-short pants, grass stains and dirty knees. We kick off our shoes and stomp across the wooden floor.

The walls are covered with photographs of family and rodeos: Uncle riding a bucking bronco, Grandpa’s army regiment, our great- grandparents in the garden and Yayah, young, with a beautiful smile.

Nicola Campbell’s third book captures her childhood memories of visits to her grandpa’s farm. The little girls in this story adore their grandfather and share the sights, sounds, smells and general experiences of a visit to his farm. Woven through the text are multiple references to different family members, including beloved Yayah, who has passed away. Campbell also includes a special tribute to her grandfather’s military service in World War II. This story is a love-filled collection of experiences as seen through the eyes of a child.

internal art

      Kim LaFave provides the illustrations for this text, and he uses simple lines to create cartoon pictures. His illustrations often communicate movement of the characters, and the facial expressions on the characters help to show the varying emotions of the four little girls who are visiting Grandpa. The pictures fill the pages, and the text is inserted on top of the pictures to create a seamless connection between the illustrations and the story. LaFave’s illustrations pair a sense of fun with the freedom associated with childhood.

      In my experience with reading stories to children, they are looking for a defined beginning, middle, and end. One problem that I had with this book is that this type of story arc is difficult for young children to follow. The book documents a collection of different, disjointed experiences of little girls on a visit to Grandpa’s farm. This style of text was simply too sophisticated for the age that the book is recommended. Additionally, I found Campbell’s inclusion of another language to be very distracting. The second language in the book was distracting because it was difficult to locate the glossary for the words, and I had to spend a great deal of time as a reader trying to figure out what the words meant.

      Grandpa’s Girls shares the experiences and the memories of a little girl and her extended family. The story encourages readers to cherish the time spent with family and to learn as much as possible about different family members. Many readers will be able to connect with the theme of family that is evident throughout the book.

Recommended with reservations.

Leanne Ryrie teaches second grade in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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