Friday, October 03, 2008

The Not So Random Shelf: Picture Book

While there are wonderfully written stories about grandparents dying or passing along their wizened wisdom to future generations, it’s always a treat to have stories that celebrate a different side of elderly people. In the Caldecott Medal-winning Song and Dance Man, Karen Ackerman and illustrator Stephan Gammell have created a memorable grandfather who entertains his stories of “the good ol’ days” with energy and panache.

Whenever his grandchildren visit, Grandfather entertains them with stories of his days on the vaudeville stage. Grandfather entertained scores of people with his song and dance routine, complete with magic tricks, that he recreates for his delighted grandchildren. Grandfather might be old, but he can still do a mean shuffle-ball-change. Although Grandfather lived an exciting life as a stage performer, he wouldn’t trade a million of those days for the days he now spends with his grandchildren.

And so it ends. Not with the grandchildren telling us that that was the last time Grandpa ever danced for them before he died, broke his hip, or went to the nursing home. Thank goodness. This is not an old and feeble grandfather; just a grandfather that remembers but doesn’t live in the olden times and who loves his children. This is a great read aloud that children with a loving grandfather will definitely relate to, even if their grandfather never shuffled off to Buffalo.

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