Don’t Call Me Grandma by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon

Published by Carolrhoda Books 

Summary: Great-Grandmother Nell is 96 years old, and prickly enough to be kind of scary. Yet clearly her great-granddaughter, who narrates this book, loves her and is fascinated by her.  Great Grandmother insists on being called Great Grandmother.  She may be old, but she is still stylish, occasionally inviting her great granddaughter into her room for a little practice applying lipstick and wearing perfume.  Great Grandmother claims to remember every day of her 96 years, including the day her heart was broken when her best friend said they couldn’t be friends anymore because of Nell’s brown skin.  A wordless two-page spread shows some of her other memories, like the March on Washington and a performance by the Alvin Ailey dance company.  At the end, the narrator sneaks into her great grandmother’s room for a good night kiss while Great Grandmother is sleeping.  32 pages; grades 1-3.

Pros:  This is a great mentor text for characterization.  So many interesting details about Great Grandmother Nell really make her come alive for the reader, and also reveal a bit about the narrator.  The bold, colorful illustrations help flesh out both characters as well.

Cons: Some adult readers may be offended by the “glass with something that looks like apple juice” that Nell sips during the day and once offers to her great granddaughter.

One thought on “Don’t Call Me Grandma by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon

  1. I love your blog. It’s very helpful for a single dad of 2. My kids are currently big fans of John Contratti’s lovely children’s picture book, “Cooking With Mr. C.” It has a beautiful message which is very important to me for my boys to learn at an early age. Have you read it? I recommend it.


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