Don't Call Me Grandma

illus. by Elizabeth Zunon. 32p. Carolrhoda. Feb. 2016. lib. ed. $19.99. ISBN 9781467742085.
Gr 1–3—Great-grandmother Nell is 96 and prickly, and her great-granddaughter admires her very much. Little by little, the girl learns bits and snatches about her great-grandmother's life, including one of the things that caused her broken heart: when Nell's best friend told her they couldn't be friends anymore because of her brown skin. Nelson weaves tension into the text as the little girl wants desperately to have the attention of her great-grandmother, but the elderly lady just isn't one for giving out affection. The eccentric nonagenarian eats fish for breakfast, wears pearls everywhere, and takes sips of an amber liquid that are so tiny that one glass lasts all day. The story's perspective is from the child, who finds her great-grandmother "scary" but also intriguing, outspoken, and glamorous. Zunon's lively, colorful illustrations balance the serious tone of the text with warmth and saturation. The two characters may seem very different, but Zunon gives each the same birthmark on her right cheek, indicating they may not be so different after all.
VERDICT An appealing intergenerational story.

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