Grandma's Tiny House: A Counting Story
JaNay Brown-Wood, author
JaNay is the author of Imani’s Moon and a professor of early childhood education. She lives in Roseville, California.
Read more about JaNay.
Priscilla Burris, illustrator
Priscilla is a graduate from The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising and the illustrator of the Heidi Heckelbeck series (Little Simon), Maggi and Milo (Dial), and more. She is also both author and illustrator of Five Green and Speckled Frogs: A Count-And-Sing Book (Scholastic). Priscilla lives in Southern California.
- Chicago Public Library’s 2017 Best of the Best Books selection
Publishers Weekly, starred review
A grandmother welcomes her family, friends, and neighbors into her small home, and everyone arrives with lots of food and energy. As the guests show up, Brown-Wood counts up to "15 hungry grandkids," writing in breezy, confident rhymes: "Nine chatting aunties all head for the den,/ and set down the cheesecakes that add up to ten." Burris introduces the mostly African-American cast in smudgy digital illustrations with crayonlike outlines, creating a vibe of good-natured chaos. With no room indoors, the party moves into the backyard: "Perfect in size, at the edge of Brown Street,/ sits Grandma's backyard, where we all go to eat." A warmhearted tribute to the messy joys of a big, impromptu gathering.
A fantastic feast unfolds as Grandma's family gathers at her very small home.There are "TWO turkeys send[ing] scrumptious smells through the air," "FOUR pots of hot greens and ham hocks galore." And that's just to start. Beyond the food, there are the bearers of all these treats. "SEVEN cool uncles stroll up in a line, / with EIGHT jugs of lemonade, ice-cold and fine." This rhyming counting book features a large family with brown skin, mostly of the same shade with some slight variations in skin tone but lots of different hairstyles, body types, and looks. The party doesn't seem to be celebrating any particular holiday, just an excuse for family, neighbors, and friends (there are a few white faces among the friends) to come together and enjoy a multigenerational summer day. But there is a problem accommodating everyone, and one of the "FIFTEEN hungry grandchildren," a logical little girl with a yellow headband holding back her Afro, has the solution. She suggests using the backyard, and the party moves outside without skipping a beat. There is a great sense of movement and bustle, and Grandma's cat and dog can be spotted in each double-page spread. Grandma's lucky to have all these family members, and young readers are even luckier to be invited to this wonderful family gathering.
School Library Journal
Grandmother has prepared two turkeys and invited a cast of diverse friends over for a feast. After the last one arrives, “That’s when the walls bulge. There is no space! How will we all eat in this too-tiny place?” Rhymed couplets with a delightful lilt explain a common problem. As the verses count various items on each page up to the number 15, the dilemma is elucidated. Burris uses Photoshop with a soft pencil outline to capture the grandmother with her hot pink blouse, pink headband, and pink ballet flats. At the appropriate moment, the granddaughter solves the problem with “I KNOW” in a close-up perspective on a spread. VERDICT This counting story will have repeated readings during the holidays and all year round.
Horn Book Magazine
No matter how big Grandma’s extended family grows, she always finds room for relatives and friends. The young, brown-skinned narrator describes in (generally) metered verse a gathering at Grandma’s house. The party includes one grandma, two turkeys, three neighbors (who come bearing “FOUR pots of hot greens and ham hocks”)…all the way up to fifteen grandkids ready for a feast. When as many warm bodies as possible squeeze into Grandma’s small house, the young narrator whispers in Grandma’s ear her great idea to help everyone enjoy the party more. Burris’s lively, cheerful watercolor illustrations convey the frenetic nature of this gathering, the joy the relatives and friends share in being together, and Grandma’s determination to make all her guests welcome. Burris also includes an abundance of natural Afro hairstyles in her illustrations, offering a variety of mirrors for readers with naturally textured hair. Children and adults alike will appreciate all the ways this family enjoys one another’s company. A fine addition to book collections about families, food, counting, and joyous gatherings.
ISBN: 978-1-60734-868-9 EPUB
ISBN: 978-1-60734-869-6 PDF
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Page count: 32
81/2 x 91/2
Correlated to Common Core State Standards:
English Language Arts-Literacy. Reading Literature. Grade K. Standards 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10
English Language Arts-Literacy. Reading Literature. Grade 1. Standards 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10