Any time to celebrate grandparents- whether in real life or in books- is a good time. This year, Grandparents’ Day is on September 8. It’s a perfect opportunity to read about (and snap up!) three author’s books that highlight the beautiful relationship between a child and their grandparents- and that between a grandparent and a grandchild.
The following children and young adult authors: Melanie Florence, Julie Larade, and Heather Smith have written with compassion, deep love, and full hearts about children and their very special relationship with their grandparents.
All the books featured will make excellent and heartfelt gifts for any grandparent- or grandchild- in your life.
Melanie Florence (https://www.melanieflorence.com)
In Melanie Florence’s soon-to-be-released chapter book, Just Lucky, she writes about the beauty- and frailty- of love between a grandchild and her grandparents.
“An uplifting and hopeful #ownvoices novel revealing the complexities of foster care and the heartbreak of dementia.” (Kirkus Reviews 2019-06-15)
If I’m being completely honest, I didn’t deliberately set out to write about the relationship between children and grandparents. I was really close to my own grandfather and I think I wanted to explore that relationship in my writing somehow. I certainly didn’t expect to write three very different books that explored that relationship. I’ve written fifteen books, I think? And so far, three feature a relationship with grandparents. I find that relationship so unique. My grandfather was someone who loved that I wanted to be a writer. He would go to yard sales and find books for me to read. He’d listen to me tell stories. He called me a natural storyteller and that was the highest compliment to me. He never got to see me publish a book, but I’ve always felt like he knows somehow and is proud of me.
In two of the books, the grandparents had little choice but to raise their grandchild when the parents, for whatever reason, couldn’t. I think that shows such unconditional love. At least in my stories. There was never a second thought about it.
I guess I write about a specific kind of grandparent and a specific kind of relationship. My own grandparents – particularly my grandfather – were so loving and kind and generous. Any grandparent I write in my books tend to be like them. My characters never feel like a burden to their grandparents because they’re not. They have wonderful relationships.
My grandfather was the first person I remember losing as a child. It hit me hard and it made me appreciate the close relationship we had and really made me value the time we spent together. I think Lucky feels the same way about her grandfather. Dementia is something we also faced in my family. My grandmother had Alzheimers and watching the decline of a loved one is heartbreaking. Especially when you’re young. I tried to write it truthfully. I tried to put myself in Lucky’s shoes … or put her in mine.
Just Lucky is available for pre-order now and will be released September 17, 2019. Pre-order your copy HERE.
To celebrate the launch of the book, Melanie is also doing a pre-order giveaway!
Melanie Florence is an award-winning writer of Cree and Scottish heritage based in Toronto. She was close to her grandfather as a child, a relationship that sparked her interest in writing about Aboriginal themes and characters. She is the author of Missing Nimama, which won the 2016 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, the 2017 Forest of Reading Golden Oak Award and was a finalist for the 2017 First Nation Communities READ award. Her most recent picture book, Stolen Words, won the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award, is shortlisted for the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, and was given a starred review by Kirkus, who listed it as one of the best picture books of 2017 to give readers strength. Her other books include Righting Canada’s Wrongs: Residential Schools and the teen novels He Who Dreams, The Missing, One Night, and Rez Runaway.
Julie Larade (https://www.julielarade.com/)
Julie Larade is the author of the historical fiction novel, Laura’s Story and the children’s book series Lazarus the Detective / Lazare le détective.
Laura’s Story is a beautiful and enduring tale of a heroic Acadian woman struggling to survive in rural Nova Scotia from the 1930s through the following decades. Life’s surprises weave throughout the book, and the resilience of the characters is truly inspiring. As the family members develop and their stories weave and unfold, we see firsthand what courage and perseverance mean, and we are moved by the true meaning of family and love.
—Michelle Greenwell, Author
Julie: to me it was a natural thing to do to write about my family. I grew up in a warm and loving home. Even now, when my sisters and I gather, we reminisce and laugh even about the less good times. When my husband and I were raising our three children, we didn’t have much, but they were always our priority, our “main investment.” Now that we’re grandparents of five kids- 19 years to two years, I started to write the Lazarus books because being a grandparent comes naturally and it’s where I am in my life now.
In all my books the grandparent/grandchild bond is the main relationship. For example, Laura in Laura’s Story and its spin-off, which is the book I’m currently writing, both are about a granddaughter and a grandmother. Even after the grandmother passes, that relationship remains the focal point. I think that relationship gives a sense of belonging to a child and a good feeling about family.
For children, when a child has loving relationships in his family, he learns self importance and has the confidence to solve problems at a young age. In the Lazarus series, Lazarus is so young, but he can solve problems. I see it in our own grandson. He’s busy as a beaver and loves to solve his own problems. He attacks them calmly, takes his time, puts his little trailer on his toy truck with so much patience with fitting the knob in the hole so the truck can haul the tractor, and to me, it’s very inspiring.
When I was a mom, I didn’t have time to appreciate my kids as much. Cooking, teaching, working, and after supper we’d go sledding, but it seems I was always tired. I appreciated them, loved each age, but it passed quickly.
Now I can just enjoy my grandchildren without the same responsibility. I can just appreciate them.
Julie Larade, author and retired elementary school teacher, is currently at work on a second novel, a spin-off of Laura’s Story as well as a second children’s book in the Lazarus series. In addition to her love of writing, she enjoys reading, playing and listening to music, practising Tai Chi, and spending time with her grandchildren.
Heather Smith (https://www.heathertsmith.com/)
Heather Smith is the author of six YA and children’s books. Her children’s book, A Plan for Pops, is about a young boy whose Pops takes a fall and must be confined to a wheelchair. Lou uses his ingenuity to help his Pops so he can be happy again.
“A positive and realistic representation of both a wheelchair user and an elderly, interracial gay male couple.”
– Kirkus Reviews, November 9, 2018
“A delicious, enjoyable, and necessary narrative for modern families with a non-normative makeup. Highly Recommended.”
– CN: Canadian Review of Materials, November 9, 2018
Heather: “The grandparent-grandchild relationship can be one of the most rewarding experiences in a child’s life. It can also be one of the most challenging. In A Plan for Pops, Lou watches Grandad and Pops deal with the inevitable consequences of aging. While these situations can be difficult for a young person, they can also be empowering. Throughout the course of the story, Lou is able to look beyond the challenges and see the ways in which to help. I hope that young readers in similar situations take solace in this. I hope they see the hope in the adversity.”
Heather Smith spent much of her early life wrestling with words. Not only was she a reluctant reader, she struggled with speech as well. Unable to pronounce certain words she became a walking thesaurus, anxiously swapping out words she wanted to say with words she could say. Although Heather’s relationship with words was rocky, the two were eventually able to get over their difficulties and have been on speaking terms ever since. Today, Heather wrestles with words in a different way – she’s a writer! Instead of dodging them, she grabs them tight with both hands and finds them a home on the page.
Ready to write about your own grandparents, family, life experiences, or grapple with your own story? Our upcoming nonfiction/memoir course: Journey to the Page: Writing Your Life Stories begins October 7, 2019.
The course is a wonderful opportunity to get to know your own life, and give it a new life- on the page.