cover image Happy Birthday, Grampie

Happy Birthday, Grampie

Susan Pearson. Dial Books, $10.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-3457-9

Martha's grandfather is blind, and it's his 89th birthday. His hands shake, and he doesn't ""speak English anymore . . . just Swedish.'' Martha's father explains that when some people grow old, they only remember their first language. Martha has saved money in an empty cigar box for her grandfather's birthday presenthis favorite Swedish tobaccobut now she is concerned. She has prepared a special card for him with felt letters on it, so that he'll be able to ``read'' it. But what if he doesn't remember the meaning of her words? The moment of truth comes when he traces the letters, ``Happy Birthday Grampie. I love you,'' with his fingers. ``Martha, I love you, too,'' he says. It seems that words from the heart have no limitations. Pearson's story, of an elderly person with special needs, seems both deeply personal and universal; she has packed high emotion into a small story. Himler's watercolors are sweetly affecting, alive with cherishable touches and warm moments. Ages 4-8. (April)