January 11 – Heritage Treasures Day

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About the Holiday

Heritage Treasures Day is an initiative established in the United Kingdom by the Heritage Lottery Fund in 1994 to preserve important parts of human history. Since that time nearly eight billion pounds raised through the national lottery have been dispersed to support more than 40,000 projects. Multiple funds have been created to support various types of programs. For example, “Sharing Heritage” provides money for local heritage sites ranging from personal memories to the conservation of an area’s wildlife, while “Our Heritage” is used to preserve archaeological sites, endangered wildlife, and museum collections. Heritage Grants are given to large projects such as the preservation and restoration of Stonehenge. Today’s holiday celebrates these efforts and raises global awareness of the importance of protecting and passing on our shared history. To celebrate on a smaller scale, take an opportunity to talk about your family’s stories, history, and legacy with your kids.

Maud and Grand-Maud

Written by Sara O’Leary | Illustrated by Kenard Pak

 

On certain Saturdays Maud gets to sleep over at Grand-Maud’s house. She sleeps in a special nightgown that Grand-Maud made for her. “The nightgown goes all the way to the floor, and is made out of plaid flannel, and is softer than anything.” Grand-Maud even made herself one to match. Once dressed, they have breakfast for dinner eaten on trays in front of the TV, where they watch old black and white movies. Maud thinks everything was black and white when Grand-Maud was a child.

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Image copyrigh Kenard Pak, 2020, text copyright Sara O’Leary, 2020. Courtesy of Random House.

At bedtime, Maud snuggles into the extra twin bed in Grand-Maud’s room. In this bed Maud always has good dreams, and under the bed hides a wooden chest in which “there is always something new for Maud placed inside, even when Grand-Maud doesn’t know she will be visiting.” Sometimes the thing is something bought new for Maud to use or play with. Other times Grand-Maud has made something for Maud, like “…a pair of mittens, or some cookies to take home so the time between visits is sweeter.”

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Image copyrigh Kenard Pak, 2020, text copyright Sara O’Leary, 2020. Courtesy of Random House.

But the best times are when the chest holds “something from when Grand-Maud was a little girl herself.” Once Maud found a heart-shaped stone that Grand-Maud had carried in her pocket for a whole year. Now Maud carries it in hers. This time, Maud pulls out a book of fairy tales that Grand-Maud had written her name in. Maud was happy to see her own name in it.

That night, with the lights dimmed, Grand-Maud and Maud talked about the future. Maud said she wants to be a writer and have at least seven children. She imagines living in “‘…a very tall house so that the children can have bunk beds that go up and up and up.’” Grand-Maud says that later Maud will have her own granddaughter. The thought makes Maud smile. In her dream she lives in an apartment just like Grand-Maud’s and is standing at the doorstep to welcome Maud for a special visit.

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Image copyrigh Kenard Pak, 2020, text copyright Sara O’Leary, 2020. Courtesy of Random House.

Sara O’Leary’s story about the connection between a grandmother and her granddaughter who share the same name is sweet and endearing. With homey details—a homemade nightgown, breakfast for dinner, and especially the wooden chest that always holds a surprise, O’Leary perfectly captures the comforting love and sense of adventure children feel when spending time with their grandparents. The old movies Maud and Grand-Maud watch together, the treasures Grand-Maud passes down to Maud, and the interest Grand-Maud shows in her granddaughter’s future all demonstrate simple but meaningful ways for older and younger generations to share their experiences and build understanding and strong bonds. O’Leary’s straightforward and lovely storytelling, highlighted with realistic dialogue, makes for rich and cuddly story times that can lead to discussions between kids and adults about their own family heritage. Her moving ending charms with a look toward a future of continued family ties.

Kenard Pak’s soft illustrations in warm browns, reds, and blues will enchant readers as they are invited into Grand-Maud’s cozy brownstone apartment to share a sleepover with Maud. Pak alternates between images of the close-knit grandmother and granddaughter, happy to be sitting side by side while sharing meals, memories, and talks of the future, with pages that give children a closer look at their breakfast supper, the enticing wooden chest and past items it has contained, and Maud’s imaginings, including the stories she’ll write, her future children’s bunkbeds, and that childlike idea that the world in the era of black-and-white movies was also black and white.

As snug and as full of love as a hug, Maud and Grand-Maud is a tender book for grandparents and grandkids to read together or for parents and children to cuddle up with whenever they’re missing Grandma. The book would make a favorite read to spark conversations about family history and family stories. Maud and Grand-Maud is highly recommended for home, school, and public library collections.

Ages 3 – 8

Random House / Penguin Random House Canada, 2020 | ISBN 978-0399554582

Discover more about Sara O’Leary and her books on her website

To learn more about Kenard Pak, his books, and his art, visit his website.

Heritage Treasures Day Activity

CPB - Cookie Jar Museum (2)

Create a Family Story Exhibit

 

Every item has a story. A fun and educational way for kids to learn family stories and interact with their own history is for family members to each create an exhibit of favorite or meaningful objects in your home. Tags can tell how each item was obtained, any funny or interesting story that is attached to it, and what it means to the owner. Displaying and talking about the exhibits can be a fun way to spend time together while seeing common objects in a whole new light.

Supplies

  • A number of household 
  • Paper or index cards
  • Marker, pen, or pencil
  • A table, shelf, or other area for display

Directions

  1. To get started help children gather a number of items from around the house to be the subjects of their exhibit. An exhibit can have a theme, such as Travel Souvenirs, or it can contain random items of your child’s choice, like toys, plants, tools, or artwork.
  2. Using the paper or cards, children can create labels for their exhibit items. Older children can write the labels themselves; younger children may need adult help.
  3. Spend a little time relating the story behind each object: where it came from, how long you’ve had it, and when and how it was used in the past. Include any funny or touching memories attached to the item. Or let your child’s imagination run free, and let them create histories for the objects.
  4. When the labels are finished, arrange the items on a table, shelf, or in a room, and let your child lead family members on a tour. You can even share the exhibit with family and friends on FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, or other app.

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You can find Maud and Grand-Maud at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookseller, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

December 23 – Roots Day

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About the Holiday

Roots Day was established to inspire us to look into our family background and learn about our heritage. It’s fascinating to discover facts about our ancestors’s lives and the stories that have come down from generation to generation. If you will be with family this weekend, talk about your collective history and get to know each other in a whole new way!

Mango, Abuela, and Me

Written by Meg Medina | Illustrated by Angel Dominguez

 

During the winter Mia’s Abuela moves from her house far away to live with her family. Mia feels shy around her unfamiliar grandmother, but quickly adapts, sharing her room and her drawer space. The one thing they cannot share is language. Abuela “can’t unlock the English words” in Mia’s book, and Mia knows only a little Spanish.

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Image copyright Angela Domingues, text copyright Meg Medina. Courtesy of Candlewick Press

On the first night Abuela shows Mia two things she has carefully brought with her—a feather from a wild parrot that roosted in her mango trees and a photograph of her late husband. “Tu Abuelo,” she explains to Mia.

For the rest of the winter, Mia spends time with her grandmother, but regrets that she can never tell her important things about her life. Abuela does’t know that Mia’s good at art or can beat the boys in a race. Likewise, Abuela can’t tell Mia about her life or answer Mia’s many questions. 

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Image copyright Angela Domingues, text copyright Meg Medina. Courtesy of Candlewick Press

When Mia confides in her mother, her mom reminds her of how she helped her best friend, Kim, learn English when she was new at school. One day while Mia and her grandma bake meat pies, Mia pretends to be her teacher, naming each ingredient in English. Abuela reciprocates with the Spanish word. Mia suddenly has an idea. She tags everything in the house with its English name and the pair practices.

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Image copyright Angela Domingues, text copyright Meg Medina. Courtesy of Candlewick Press

The next day on a trip to the pet shop to buy hamster food, Mia sees something in the window that gives her another exciting idea. Right in the middle of the display sits a colorful parrot. “Let’s buy him,” Mia exclaims. “For Abuela.” The parrot can keep Abuela company while she is in school, Mia thinks.

Abuela is thrilled with the gift, and they name the parrot Mango because he is the color of the tropical fruit. Abuela teaches him to say Buenos tardes. Good afternoon, Mia teaches him. “Buenos tardes, good afternoon,” Mango repeats. Abuela, Mia, and Mango spend the days practicing new English and Spanish words, learning the days of the week, the months, and the names of coins. Encouraged by her success, Abuela asks to learn more and harder words so she can meet people in the neighborhood.

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Image copyright Angela Domingues, text copyright Meg Medina. Courtesy of Candlewick Press

Best of all, Mia and Abuela can now talk about everything. Their “mouths are full of things to say,” and they tell each other about their day and their lives. From his perch Mango watches and listens. Night falls and as the light is turned off, Mia says “Hasta mañana, Abuela.” “Good night, Mia,” Abuela whispers.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-mango-abuela-and-me-baking-together

Image copyright Angela Domingues, text copyright Meg Medina. Courtesy of Candlewick Press

Meg Medina beautifully represents the relationship between a little girl and her grandmother who are unfamiliar with each other but bound by familial love. The little girl’s acceptance of her grandmother and desire to communicate is strongly depicted in the activities they do together. Mia’s clever ideas to promote the mutual learning of each other’s language shows the kind of inclusiveness that builds friendships. 

Angela Dominguez depicts the developing friendship between Mia and her Abuela in bright paintings that mirror the reds, blues, greens, and yellows of the tropics. The pair’s closeness grows organically from page to page as Mia first shies away from the grandmother who is a stranger to her to attempts at communication to deep feelings of love as they bridge the language barrier through dedication, hard work, and the help of a unique friend.

Ages 5 – 8

Candlewick Press, 2015 | ISBN 978-0763669003 (English) / 978-0763680992 (Spanish)

Learn more about Meg Medina and her books on her website

Discover more about Angela Dominguez and her books on her website!

Watch the Mango, Abuela, and Me book trailer!

Roots Day Activity

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Family Recipe Card

 

Every family has at least one favorite recipe. Maybe it’s a recipe handed down through the generations or maybe it’s a brand new treat! Print this Family Recipe Card on card stock or glue it to a 4″ x 6″ index card. Write down your recipe and save it. Why not start your own box of special recipes that you can pass down?

Picture Book Review