Grammy Lamby and the Secret Handshake

Kate Klise, illus. by M. Sarah Klise. Holt, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9313-1
The Klise sisters (Little Rabbit and the Meanest Mother on Earth) have once again hit the nail on the head: some relatives—okay, old relatives—fill kids with dread. Take Larry Lamb’s Grammy Lamby: she’s loud, boring, and clueless, sewing pink polka-dot pajamas for Larry, bellowing about “fabulous” adventures that just the two of them can take, and embarrassing him with her triple squeeze secret handshake. “He even said in his head, ‘Please (squeeze). Go (squeeze). Away (squeeze).’ ” Worst of all, Larry feels completely alone in his misery (his dislike of Grammy Lamby is his “big secret”). M. Sarah Klise’s assertively girly rendering style makes a terrific visual foil for the beleaguered hero’s humiliation and horror. When a big storm hits, Larry discovers that Grammy Lamby is actually a can-do dynamo, capable of rebuilding Larry’s damaged home and spearheading cleanup efforts for the entire valley. Most embarrassing relatives don’t get the opportunity to reveal another side of themselves as Grammy Lamby does, but this empathetic story may persuade readers that there’s a real human being behind that unfortunate gift or too-tight hug. Ages 4–8. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/21/2012
Release date: 07/03/2012
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