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Stories Across Generations

A recommended reading list by the author of new middle grade novel Sixties Girl.

Book Cover Sixties Girl

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Being a grandmother is the role in life I love the most—and the grandchild/grandparent connection is one I explore in my novel Sixties Girl.

Here’s my recommended list of other books about grandparents and their grandchildren. Each one has a special personal connection for me.


Book Cover Stolen Words

My six-year-old grandson Leo introduced me to Melanie Florence’s picture book Stolen Words. I happened to be visiting Leo’s family on Truth and Reconciliation Day and when he came home from school in his orange shirt he regaled me with a very detailed retelling of Stolen Words a book his teacher had read to them. I just had to buy my own copy of this heart-warming story about a little girl who helps her grandfather recover the traditional language taken from him as a child.


Book Cover Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Playing and watching baseball has been a passion in my husband’s family for four generations.   That makes Maryanne Kovalski’s Take Me Out to the Ball Game a perfect picture book to give our great nieces and nephews.  A grandma takes her two granddaughters to an afternoon game at a major league ballpark. There they belt out the seventh inning stretch song "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" in fine style! The lively illustrations pull readers right into the action.  And the team featured is of course……The Toronto Blue Jays!


Book Cover Peter Lee

Since my father has dementia I have a soft spot in my heart for the eleven-year- old boy who is the hero in Peter Lee’s Notes From the Field, by Angela Ahn. Peter wants to be a paleontologist. When he finds out his grandmother’s strange behaviour means she has dementia he uses the observation, research, and organizational skills he’s learned studying dinosaurs, to come up with a plan to help his grandma remain in her own home. He doesn’t want her to move to a senior’s residence far away where he won’t get to see her very often. His grandmother has played such an important role in the life of their close-knit Korean family.


Book Cover Maud and GrandMaud

When my granddaughter was born a dear friend gave me Maud and Grand-Maud, by Sara O’Leary. I thought it was for my granddaughter but my friend said “No. It’s for you. It’s a Grandma present.”  I’d never received a Grandma present before but I loved this one. Illustrated with gorgeous watercolors by Kenard Park, the book describes the relationship between a woman named Maud and the granddaughter who is her namesake. Grand-Maud hosts regular sleepovers for young Maud. They wear matching nightgowns, watch black and white movies and eat pancakes for supper. Best of all Grandma keeps a treasure box under Maud’s bed and every time she visits there is something new and interesting in the box.


Book Cover The Vegetable Museum

My husband’s parents were vegetable farmers and my own Dad’s garden expanded every year so perhaps that’s why I was drawn to the novel The Vegetable Museum, by Michelle Mulder. Chloe and her Dad have just moved to Victoria British Columbia to be near Chloe’s grandfather. She hasn’t seen him often and doesn’t really know him well. Grandpa has an heirloom vegetable garden full of heritage plants grown from seeds he’s saved and preserved. Since he’s recently had a stroke Chloe pitches in to help with planting and weeding and finds it’s a way to get to know her grandpa. Later she will be instrumental in saving her grandfather’s seed collection when its survival is threatened.


Book Cover Family of Spies

During the pandemic one of my projects was making a family tree. In the process I found out some interesting things about my great grandparents. That happens as well to Gavin, Ellie, and Ford the three siblings in Jodi Carmichael’s novel Family of Spies when they discover their great grandfather was a military man sent on a secret mission during World War II. On a family trip to Paris Ford finds out he is linked to his great grandfather in an unusual way that results in plenty of adventure and danger. I want to reread this book again because I’m off to Paris this summer and the author’s feet on the ground research provides readers with an inside look at the French capital.


Book Cover Selina and the Bear Paw Quilt

My Mennonite mother-in-law was an avid quilter. I am from a Mennonite background too and so Selina and the Bear Paw Quilt, by Barbara Smucker, really resonates with me. It’s the story of a Mennonite girl living in Pennsylvania in the 1860s who loves watching her grandmother stitch together a special quilt using the Bear Paw pattern. Grandma uses scraps of fabric from various family members’ clothes to make each square. In this way the quilt becomes a family history record.  Mennonites are pacificists and so as the Civil War begins Selina’s family must flee to Canada to avoid military service and remain true to their beliefs. Grandma decides she is too old for the journey but sends along her treasured quilt.


Book Cover Coop the Great

I was once bit on the nose by a dachshund! The fact that experience didn’t deter me from enjoying Larry Verstraete’s Coop the Great is a testament to what a great story the author spins. Coop, an aging dachshund, has recently been adopted by an elderly grandfather named Mike. I remember my grandparents stepping in to help when my Mom was overwhelmed. That’s exactly what Mike the grandfather in Coop the Great does. He helps his daughter and his grandchildren Zach and Emma when they are in a troubled and challenging situation.  Mike has told Coop stories about dogs who were heroes. They inspire Coop to rise to the occasion when Mike and his grandchildren need a hero.


Book Cover Gifts

I have been to more than 40 countries on my travels and so Jo Allen Bogart and Barbara Reid’s delightful picture book Gifts strikes a chord with me. The globe-trotting grandmother at the heart of the poetic text brings back unique gifts for her granddaughter from each place she visits. Barbara Reid’s plasticene illustrations are so detailed and lovely. Both the grandmother and granddaughter age gracefully in the story as the desire to see the world passes from one generation to another. Travel is a passion of mine that I hope will inspire my grandchildren to see as much of the world as they can.


Book Cover Sixties

Will is an almost twelve-year-old boy who plays the tuba and is a soccer goalie. He’s one of the narrators in my latest novel Sixties Girl. The other narrator is Will’s grandmother Laura, a recent widow, who writes picture books for little kids. Will is not impressed when his parents insist he spend one day a week at Grandma Laura’s after school.

On his first visit however, he finds an old suitcase full of his grandmother’s souvenirs from the 1960s.  As Grandma Laura tells him the stories that go with each keepsake Will becomes more and more intrigued.  He’s gotten himself into kind of mess with his best friends at school.  Can his grandmother’s stories inspire him to untangle it?

There are many other great books written by talented Canadian authors about the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren. Which ones connect with you and your family’s story?


Learn more about Sixties Girl:
Set in 1960s and present-day Winnipeg, this poignant coming-of-age story follows a decade in the life of a young girl growing up in a close-knit family in a time of sweeping social change.
The 1960s was a decade of major world events, exciting changes, and unforgettable fashion and music. But for Laura, navigating the cliques at school, avoiding corporal punishment doled out by the nuns, and dealing with her mother’s illness feel more real than the news stories of political assassinations, royal visits, the legalization of birth control, and the threat of nuclear war that dominate the headlines of the day. Sixties Girl is a decade in the life of an ordinary girl living in extraordinary times, from the Cuban Missile Crisis to Expo 67, from Beatlemania to miniskirts.
Told in alternating timelines—with an adult Laura recalling her childhood experiences to her grandson Will—this vivid portrait of a Canadian childhood and adolescence is a deeply personal, heartfelt reflection on family and self-discovery, as well as an insightful commentary on an era that changed society forever.

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