CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 31. . . .April 12, 2013
Nana's Summer Surprise is an enjoyable story about growing up and accepting change. The young protagonist of Nana's Summer Surprise is upset finding that his step-cousin Hortense is growing up and won't be as interested in participating in the fun summer activities he had envisioned, such as tree-climbing and hiking. She takes more care with her looks and clothes, and she talks about boys she has crushes on. The protagonist feels a lot of anger and reacts by doing things like eating in his room. Eventually, Hortense suggests that they plan a party together for Nana, and they enjoy time together that way.Children will be able to relate to differences in age gaps and the mystery behind a child they had previously played with passing into the realm of adults. Adults will appreciate the humorous commentary made by the adults in the story, such as the improvement in Hortense's social skills. Because one can really "hear" people saying these things, the familiar situations will be funny.
In Nana's Summer Surprise, I find Graham's objects, such as colourful cabins and birthday cake candles, more appealing than her people who look a bit stiff and awkward. However, I do feel that her offbeat illustrations match the spunky grandmother and that children would find the artwork funny. She does also capture the protagonist's moods well. I appreciate how closely Graham paid attention to and respected the text of the story. An example of this is the description of Hortense's "fancy flip-flops", and Graham takes care to embellish them with vibrant colours and a flower each.
The story is amusing and relatable, and although the illustrations might not be for everyone, there is certainly an audience for Nana's Summer Surprise.
Zoe Pappas-Acreman is a librarian at the Ottawa Public Library who is passionate about children's literature. She is on the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator's Award jury and participated in the Canadian Children's Book Centre's committees for their publication Best Books for Kids & Teens.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.