cover image Grandma's Smile

Grandma's Smile

Randy Siegel, illus. by DyAnne DiSalvo, Roaring Brook/Porter, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-59643-438-7

The no-nonsense narrator of this clever book, who is "six and three-quarters," is a busy guy ("Plenty of things to worry about. Plenty of problems to solve"). But when his grandmother, who "lives far away, near the ocean," reports that she has lost her smile, he drops everything and flies to her side. Even very young readers will figure out Grandma's figure of speech, but that's not the real attraction. Rather, it's the story of the slog that is air travel, and how the narrator copes—his aplomb is worthy of George Clooney in Up in the Air. "Thanks for being so patient," says the boy's mother, after they have endured long lines, bad food, and delays. "I'm only being patient because there's no point being impatient," he replies. DiSalvo's (The Sloppy Copy Slipup) sketch-style watercolors achieve an authenticity and immediacy that should give even infrequent fliers a shudder of recognition. Debut author Siegel sometimes stretches credulity with his hero's knowingness (there's a fine line between being wise beyond one's years and being insufferable), but overall this is a wry and contemporary reality check on the going-to-Grandma's genre. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)