Anna Grossnickle Hines, Author, Melissa Sweet, Illustrator , illus. by Melissa Sweet. Candlewick $13.99 (24p) ISBN 978-0-7636-1237-5

In Hines's (My Own Big Bed) sympathetic and developmentally astute story, young Albert, the narrator, discovers that a grandma in person trumps a long-distance grandma any day. Albert hasn't seen his "Pat-a-Cake Grandma" since his baby days, but he cherishes his memories of playing the game with her ("I could only say, 'Patta patta, rolla rolla' ") and when she calls, they have a special "telephone game" (she says, "Patta patta" and he answers, "Rolla rolla"). But when Grandma shows up in person on his doorstep, Albert needs time to adjust: "She sounded like my Pat-a-Cake Grandma, only closer. I wanted to say 'Rolla rolla,' but my mouth couldn't. I was too shy of this grandma." Sweet's (Fiddle-I-Fee) cheery acrylics and pencil illustrations convey Albert's conflicting emotions with aplomb. He covers his eyes in a futile attempt to disappear, then hides behind his stuffed dog. Author and artist do not belabor Albert's struggle to reconcile Grandma-the-idea vs. Grandma-in-the-flesh, nor do they bring in the grownups to intervene. Instead, they wisely allow Albert to overcome his reticence all by himself: he calls Grandma on his toy phone (Grandma answers with a nearby banana) and joyfully confirms that the wonderful voice he hears belongs to the nice lady in the chair next to him, "My real Pat-a-Cake Grandma." Albert's savvy self-sufficiency should leave youngsters beaming with approval—and perhaps they will discover its application in their own lives. Ages 3-6. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/24/2003
Release date: 04/01/2003
Genre: Children's
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