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Launchpad: Grandmother School, by Rina Singh and Ellen Rooney

"How great a treat it will be to read this book in a grandmother’s lap."

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This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter and great insight to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're launching Grandmother School, by Rina Singh and Ellen Rooney, which comes highly recommended from CM: Canadian Review of Materials. Their reviewer writes, "How great a treat it will be to read this book in a grandmother’s lap."


Book Cover Grandmother School

The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence:

Rina Singh and Ellen Rooney: It's a story about grandmothers in a village in India who go to school for the first time in their lives.

Describe your ideal reader.

Rina Singh: A six or a seven year old who will question why these grandmothers were denied school in the first place.

Ellen Rooney: Mine is a grandmother who can read this book with her grandchild. Because Rina found such a universal way to tell the story, it is a book that can connect with many ages and cultural backgrounds, and will mean something different to each one.

What authors/books is your work in conversation with?

Rina Singh: I am a Feminist, by Monique Polak

Ellen Rooney: Probably any of Oge Mora's picture books.

What is something interesting you learned about your book/yourself/your subject during the process of creating and publishing your book?

Rina Singh: I learned it's never too late to learn something new.

Ellen Rooney: I learned a lot about daily life in India and the tradition of Warli painting in Maharashtra.

What is something your ideal interviewer would ask you about your book? Anything goes…

Rina Singh: Tell me about your grandmother.

Ellen Rooney: I would just like to listen to Rina talk about her grandmother!

The thank you's. Go ahead and acknowledge someone whose support has been integral to this project.

Rina Singh: I'd like thank my friend, Neela Bhalla who helped me with the Marathi words in the book.

Ellen Rooney: I'm so grateful to Rachel Page at Orca for reaching out to me with this project, and for her book design that pulled all the elements together in a beautiful package.

What are you reading right now or next?

Rina Singh: Educated, by Tara Westover

Ellen Rooney: Birdsong, by Julie Flett



Book Cover Grandmother School

About Grandmother School:

Every morning, a young girl walks her grandmother to the Aajibaichi Shala, the school that was built for the grandmothers in her village to have a place to learn to read and write. The narrator beams with pride as she drops her grandmother off with the other aajis to practice the alphabet and learn simple arithmetic. A moving story about family, women and the power of education—when Aaji learns to spell her name you’ll want to dance along with her.

Women in countless countries continue to endure the limitations of illiteracy. Unjust laws have suppressed the rights of girls and women and kept many from getting an education and equal standing in society. Based on a true story from the village of Phangane, India, this brilliantly illustrated book tells the story of the grandmothers who got to go to school for the first time in their lives.

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