________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 20 . . . . January 27, 2012


Here Comes Hortense!

Heather Hartt-Sussman. Illustrated by Georgia Graham.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2012.
32 pp., hardcover, $19.99.
ISBN 978-1-77049-221-9.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.

Review by Reesa Cohen.

***½ /4



When we get to WonderWorld, Nana and Bob tell me they have a big surprise for me.

‘I thought our trip to WonderWorld was the surprise,” I say.

“There’s more.” says Bob.

“More?” I say.

It’s going to be the best surprise ever!” says Nana.

Just then Bob shouts out: “Over here, honey!”

A gangly girl, about my age, runs over and gives Bob a huge hug. He twirls her round and round.

“ Here’s your surprise,” says Nana. “Ta-da!”

Here Comes Hortense! explores the issue of a blended family rivalry between grandchildren, told in a humorous and endearing way. The narrator is the grandson who is on his way with his Nana and her new husband, Bob, to WonderWorld. His admiration and love for his special grandmother is obvious. This is one grandmother who is absolutely fearless. Bugs, heights, and wild rides don’t frighten her. The big surprise when they arrive is Hortense, Bob’s fearless and a bit overwhelming granddaughter who is joining them. Hortense’s enthusiasm is nerve-wracking for this somewhat shy boy as he sees his Nana and Hortense bond and go on all the scary rides together and bunk together. Then he hears his Nana, now called “Nans”, singing to Hortense. Envy and friction set in, but then he discovers that Hortense misses having special time with her own grandfather.

      Learning to share the attention of grandparents is a message that is handled very well by Hartt-Sussman. As a sequel to Nana’s Getting Married, Here Comes Hortense should be a welcomed addition for those seeking stories that explore intergenerational relationships. internal art

      Georgia Graham’s artwork is truly delightful. As in her other well-received illustrations in the “Wanda” series, the media are chalk pastels and pastel pencils on sandpaper in exaggerated comic style. The drawings suit the story so well and are complemented with large bold text in many strategic places. The theme park, depicted in all its “over the top” garish features, is appealing and humorous. The results are playful, quirky, colourful and action-packed artwork!

Highly Recommended.

Reesa Cohen is a retired Instructor of Children’s Literature and Information Literacy at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB.

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

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