cover image  Banjo Granny

Banjo Granny

Jacqueline Briggs Martin, Sarah Martin Busse, , illus. by Barry Root. . Houghton, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-618-33603-6

This mother-daughter team's debut collaboration opens with the lyrics and music for "Owen's Song," a bluegrass ode that sets the tone for this lighthearted and endearing tale. Readers then meet Owen's granny. When she hears that the toddler is "a baby who went wiggly, jiggly,/ all-around giggly,/ and tip over tumble/ for bluegrass music," that granny laces up her "thousand-mile shoes," packs her banjo in its "trusty old case with the taped-up handle" and sets out on foot to visit her grandson. Birds arrive on the cherubic toddler's windowsill to report on his granny's progress, while the determined woman encounters daunting obstacles: she crosses a fast, deep river, climbs a tall, steep mountain and traverses a hot, wide desert, each time using "Owen's Song" to negotiate her path. In Root's (Central Park Serenade ) gold-flecked, majestic landscapes, river, mountain and desert magically cooperate with Owen's delighted granny. His paintings create a sense of anticipation for both characters, so that when his granny finally reaches Owen's house, their hug feels like a culmination. With its heartwarming message and visuals, this is a celebration of the bond between grandparent and child. Ages 2-5. (Nov.)