June 17, 2016

My Two Grandmothers

by Diane Carmel Léger
Illustrated by Jean-Luc Trudel
Nimbus Publishing
32 pp.
Ages 4-8
April 2016

How fortunate these children are to have two grandmothers! Two grandmothers who are incredibly different-one Acadian, the other Scottish–and living in villages separated by the world's second-longest covered bridge.  Two grandmothers who are also so similar, connected by that same bridge and bonded by their love for their grandchildren.

From My Two Grandmothers
by Diane Carmel Léger, illus. by Jean-Luc Trudel
On one side of the Rockland bridge lives Mémére Hermance whose grandchildren call Grandmother Sun or Mémére Bee who lives her life with vitality and joie de vivre. She is a "very chic Acadian lady."  Nannie Henrietta, their Grandmother Moon or Nannie Hen, is a "calm and modest Scottish lady." What they offer their grandchildren in the way of treats, experiences and life lessons are very different but equally fulfilling.  Whether they get bonbons or toffee, or go to the beach or listen to a blethering brook, celebrate Réveillon or Christmas with Scottish cookies, the children, called petits escrables and wee lumbers, are loved, scolded, taught, protected, and entertained by their two grandmothers.

My Two Grandmothers is a captivating story of differences and similarities in a loving and lovely Canadian context, though Canadian and non-Canadian readers will both benefit from the glossary of French and Scottish vocabulary. (A listing of how to say "grandmother" and "grandfather" in over 20 languages is also included.)  A made-for-TV movie would have undoubtedly played up the differences between the two grandmothers making it into a competition but Diane Carmel Léger's My Two Grandmothers demonstrates how much the two older women are adored by the children who appreciate their distinct personalities as adding richness to their lives.  Illustrator Jean-Luc Trudel offers up flavourful portraits of both women, and their grandchildren, without stereotyping either.  By choosing to differentiate them both in their forms and the colours that surround them, Jean-Luc Trudel has created two contrasting but similarly soft and strong women.  As a child who grew up without grandmothers around, I would have been delighted to have had a Nannie and Mémére in my life.  For me and for those who are fortunate to have grandmothers in their lives, My Two Grandmothers will delight. And for those whose children are fortunate enough to have a French or Acadian grandmother, you might consider acquiring Mémère et Nannie, the French edition and co-publication by Bouton d'or Acadie.

From My Two Grandmothers
by Diane Carmel Léger, illus. by Jean-Luc Trudel

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