Saturday, June 11, 2011

Grandparenting: When You Come, Bring the Books

Here's today's grandparenting project. Let's all paint a tabletop for the grandchildren! Just kidding.  This one by Hieronymus Bosch entitled "Tabletop of the Seven Deadly Sins" would be a real crowd pleaser winning you Favorite Granny of the Year status I'm sure. Next time you're in Madrid, check it out at the Prado. "Others try to paint man as he appears on the outside, while Bosch alone had the audacity to paint him as he is on the inside." (King Philip II of Spain's librarian.)
One thing I've done intentionally as far as grandparenting goes is to choose toys and books for my house that the children don't have at home. No problem with this one for sure. No Prado-like masterpieces here.

Shirley Cate already has quite a library at home. Here she is with her stash. We may get her a summer internship at the Library of Congress. She likes Paul's words to Timothy, "When you come, bring the books!" Shirley Cate has been known to cry when her mama reaches the end of her favorite word book. Really. I can relate to that. A friend gave me Charlotte's Web for my eighth birthday and I was so tickled to have it. My mom said, "What will you do with it once you've read it?" Why, I'll hold it. And read it again. And look for my favorite sentences. Read slowly so it lasts longer. And cry when I've finished it just because it's over. Shirley Cate, I feel your pain, girl.
I really do have a project for you especially in light of the fact that Father's Day is closing in on us. Here's your gift idea. Since you don't want to duplicate books that the children have, make one of your own to give to their grandaddy to read when they are at your house. I'm not talking about the next great American novel, just a story that has something to do with your family, home, pets, etc. Believe me, it's fun. Let the children help you. And don't worry about having your art work rejected by the next jury.
Did I just hear someone cry, "But what will I write about?" Listen up because this is probably the only time you'll hear me say this. Be reckless with your thoughts. Has your pet ever run away from home? Where did he go and whom did he meet on his adventure? Does Junior like cupcakes? Take an imaginary shopping trip with Junior until at long last he finds cupcakes at the cupcake store.

The front door at my house. But it's not just any front door. Behind the artificial flowers you'll find a beautiful little home.
See? This is good fodder for a story. "Where do you live, Little Bird? We live in a nest in a basket behind a garden." (It's plastic, but the bird doesn't know and neither will Junior.)
Then think of all the other little creatures you can visit...the baby ducks that live in the pond, the baby bear that lives in the den, the baby fox that lives under the shed, etc. etc. Ask them all where they live and let them show you. And if drawing isn't your bag, take photos and stick them in a little scrap book with Junior. Or have Junior illustrate the story. Here's how I did mine for Spike.
It all began with a true story. We have LOTS of animal activity in our yard and garage. For several years we had a possum that we named Perkins who helped himself nightly to Cannibal and Jezebel's high-cost super-tasty cat food. No wonder Perkins had such a beautiful fur coat. Good thing since the rest of him was none too pretty. Anyway, one night we came home and there was Perkins sitting on the edge of the five gallon bucket full of pecans that Coach Rugg had given us. Dastardly possum! But he became a Father's Day story for Spike and no one else has this particular book in their library.

Wouldn't you know we found possum puppets not long after. You never know when a pair of good possum puppets will come in handy. Add a nice little dedication page to Grandaddy.

In our story Perkins the Possum and his son Po'boy were looking for a nice place to live and the plot of the book is their objective analysis of Pop's house as such a home.
After all, there certainly are a lot of pecans available for Perkins and Po'boy. The illustrations are a combo of photos of places around our house and yard along with paintings done with a Dollar Tree set of watercolors. If you find illustrations that someone else has done and you like them, imitate them. Do you think Renoir thought up all those paintings by himself?
Include little photos of your grandpeeps since it will make them so happy to see themselves on the pages of this special story. Remember now, reckless imagination. Go take photos out in your tomato bed or
...on the front porch with Cannibal and Jezebel. These two could care less about having their likeness in the book, but Pop and the grandpeeps thought it a smashing idea.

You don't have but a week, so you'd better quit hanging around and get to work. And please, send me your book reports. 


  1. Katy Sanderson CreathJune 12, 2011 at 9:28 PM

    okay. this is the cutest thing ever! pop and perkins. what great memories. o and they grow so fast. love, katy

  2. Gorgeous illustrations, Shirley!