The Care and Keeping of Grandmas by Jennifer Mook-Sang, illus. by Yong Ling Kang

Review by Gabrielle Tselos

Illustrated by Yong Ling Kang

Tundra, April 4th, 2023

32 pages, hardcover, $23.99 CAD, 9780735271340

Ages 3-7 years

Picture book, realistic fiction

“My grandma was discombobulated by changes to her routine. But I was patient. Eventually, we found plans that worked for everyone.”

The Care and Keeping of Grandmas tells the story of a grandma who moves in with her family. Written from the perspective of a young girl as she helps her grandma settle in and take care of herself, the story follows the ups and downs of the move as everyone adjusts to their new routines and roles.

The illustrations by Kang are beautiful and intricate, with a watercolour-like style that evokes feelings of happiness and calmness through soft touches and fading colours. The many illustrations of plants throughout the book are spectacular and give a nice pattern to the drawings as you flip through the pages. I also really appreciated the use of colour to show emotions. In scenes where the grandma is upset, dark greys are used as opposed to the typical bright colours adorning the other pages. This technique could also help child audiences identify the characters’ feelings, especially if they can’t read the words just yet.

The Care and Keeping of Grandmas does a great job explaining to children how grandmas need time to adjust when moving to a new place, just like everyone else. Young children are often still learning about change and how it effects both themselves and others around them, and this book aids in that understanding by showing how both the grandmother and granddaughter react to big life adjustments. The story suggests everyone in the family must remain flexible and find new routines when someone moves in, revealing the importance of working together to create an easy transition. I enjoyed the details about how grandmas need help sometimes too, a heartfelt reminder that our elderly deserve just as much love and care as anyone else.

The illustrations explain exactly how a child can help as their older family members move in and get settled, with images of the granddaughter helping her grandma arrange new furniture, cook, do her hair, and much more. My favourite part of the book was the final picture of both grandma and granddaughter in the garden. The story shows them working together in the garden throughout the pages, so seeing it completed at the end of the book provided a nice, full-circle feeling.

With lovely illustrations, and sincere themes of family, change, and love, The Care and Keeping of Grandmas is a sweet addition to any library. If you have a new guest moving in, this book will help offer unique insights and advice about a potentially challenging family dynamic.

Gabrielle Tselos is a 3rd-year psychology student at UBC, who hopes to minor in creative writing. She enjoys writing, baking, and taking photos in her free time.

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