cover image The ACB with Honora Lee

The ACB with Honora Lee

Kate De Goldi, illus. by Gregory O’Brien. Tundra, $17.99 (128p) ISBN 978-1-77049-722-1

New Zealand writer De Goldi’s (The 10 PM Question) story of an only child’s determined efforts to know and love her grandmother deserves a place in the pantheon of quiet, word-of-mouth classics. Perry’s mother, a psychologist, has the nine-year-old scheduled up to the hilt (“Monday was piano with Gabriel.... Wednesday was clarinet with James”); her father jets off to conferences overseas. When Thursday’s activity is cancelled, Perry proposes weekly visits to the nursing home where Gran is hospitalized with dementia, and a strange and touching friendship unfolds. Perry, who’s as good at drawing as she is hopeless at everything else, begins assembling the alphabet book of the title—Gran’s name is Honora Lee—and sets down with beguiling honesty all she sees at the nursing home (“W is for Walking Stick, which Melvyn uses as a Weapon”). Over time, it becomes clear that Gran’s inability to recognize people does not mean that her life is any less precious or noble. Perry is funny and bewitching, and all the other characters, even the walk-ons, are equally engaging. O’Brien’s curious diagram-illustrations pay appropriate tribute to Perry’s admiration for the unconventional. Ages 10–up. (Apr.)