cover image The Greatest

The Greatest

Veera Hiranandani, illus. by Vesper Stamper. Random House Studio, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-593-64556-7

Newbery Honoree Hiranandani’s picture book debut is a moving ode to family connection from the perspective of a grandfather who’s perceived as both “the greatest” and “a simple, ordinary” person. The elderly man loves Sundays, when his three grandchildren come to visit—the pages highlight their interactions, the grandfather’s self-perception, and the grandchildren’s openhearted enthusiasm about their grandfather’s artmaking, storytelling, and cooking. “Hardly the next Picasso,” he says in the face of his grandchildren’s appreciation; “thousands of storytellers mold the language better,” and “many chefs have prepared better feasts.” As time passes, the quartet engages in the everyday as well as the seasonal—at Passover, the children see their grandfather as an important leader, while he knows that “he’s only leading the Seder the way his father taught him.” As the family builds a sukkah in autumn, the man wonders whether he should tell his grandchildren that he’s “just a regular old person,” then considers the nature of love’s reflection. Velvety watercolor and gouache illustrations by Stamper (Amazing Abe) capture the pale-skinned Jewish family’s warmth in this demonstrative work about the expansive strength of ordinary love. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Sara Crowe, Sara Crowe Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Lori Kilkelly, LK Literary. (Sept.)