Sunday, July 19, 2015

Book Review


Two for Joy
by Gigi Amateau
Candlewick 2015

“Old age ain’t no place for sissies”
                                          ~ Bette Davis

   If one thing is true in Two for Joy by Gigi Amateau it’s that Aunt Tannie is no sissy! Neither is her niece, Grace or great-niece, Jenna. Even though they live states away from each other the three generations of women are emotionally close. Aunt Tannie is Jenna’s larger than life hero complete with farm-land, chickens, big truck, motorcycle and a lovey cat named, Butt. Jenna dreams of winning a soccer game for Aunt Tannie with Mom shouting encouragement from the sidelines.

   However, Aunt Tannie is getting on in years and after another one of her falls, Grace worries that Tannie needs assistance. After all, Tannie is the one who taught her, “We all need help sometimes”. Grace and Jenna plan a drive to Tannie over spring break, to convince her to drive back and move in with them. The problem is Tannie is a strong woman….with a farm and animals and precious memories of a life with her husband in every inch of it. She doesn’t really want to go.

   All three embark on an adventure making sure Tannie has what she needs. It’s not easy. Each family member is in a very different stage of life and one is as proudly independent as the next. All three try to “do” for the others in ways that lands the clan in a mess of grump. But the memories and traditions that bind them including baking and bird watching, counting rhymes and putting family first are keys to unlocking what works for this inter-generational family.

   Amateau informs us that “over a million children in the U.S. share in care giving as part of their family life. My own daughter was a joyful presences for my grammy”. It’s this experience that Amateau shares with so many of us that make this book a wonderful read and read-aloud for children as young as five, parents and grandparents of any age. Abigail Marble's illustrations make this short chapter book friendly for readers in third grade and up.

   Two for Joy's message: “we all need help sometimes” is a gentle reminder to all to look out for each other and to accept help even when it’s difficult or not how we imagined we’d receive it. Thank you Ms. Amateau for packing so much love into eighty-nine short pages of Two for Joy for a million families of readers and then some.

Review by Linda Mitchell
7/19/15

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