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My Grandma and Me

Lindsey Yankey
Candlewick Press
0763694940 / 9780763694944

“In this big universe full of many moons, I have traveled and seen many wonders, but I have never loved anything or anyone the way I love my grandma.”

In a true tale of a young girl in Iran and her grandmother, this beautiful ode to family celebrates small moments of love that become lifelong memories.

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“When I was growing up in Iran, my grandma lived with us. I followed her everywhere. When she swept, I swept. When she cooked, I cooked. When she prayed, I prayed like her, too.” Thus begins Javaherbin’s narrative tribute to her Iranian grandmother, which affectionately sweeps the reader into the heart of their daily relationship. Readers follow along as the two say namaz at dawn, buy bread to share with their neighbors, sew chadors, and share a meal during Ramadan. In blues, roses, and golds, Yankey’s exquisite mixed-media illustrations relay details: Persian designs, dreams of space travel, baskets of bread hoisted from the street. Together, the narrative and images result in a deeply personal story that offers a broader portrait of a tender familial experience.


Love, childhood adventures, religion, and tradition are the centerpieces of this book about the author and her late grandmother, with whom she grew up in the same household in pre-revolutionary Iran.

The narrator joins her grandmother, whom she loves dearly, in everything as she goes about her day. When grandma sweeps, she does too; when grandma wakes up for prayer at dawn, she does too; and when grandma sews herself a chador, she helps, even if nominally. The delicately lined illustrations gracefully evince both the mundane and the magic in the details of the narrator’s everyday life as a child: the boy delivering towers of bread on his bike; Ramadan meals with her grandma, both at home and at the mosque; and playtime with her friend Annette while both of their grandmothers chat, knit blankets, and drink coffee. This sweet story is intermingled naturally with details about Iranian and Islamic traditions and values and supported by such visuals as an easy mix of traditional and Western attire and thoughtful inclusion of Persian design elements. It peaks in a moment of solidarity between the two grandmothers, each praying for the other to go to heaven, but via their different Muslim and Christian religions: a poignant, inclusive note. In its celebration of specific manifestations of universal love, this is highly recommended for families and educators, Muslim and non- alike, looking to teach children about Islam.

A deep and beautiful book modeling grandmothers as heroines.


Grandparents can have an enormous effect on their grandchildren and books that showcase such relationships are always welcome. The Iranian grandmother here has endless patience and love for her little granddaughter. When Grandma swept, the child swept; when Grandma prayed, the girl prayed; and when Grandma cooked, her granddaughter did as well. She follows her around daily, mirroring everything she does. The love and kindness the child receives is satisfying and speaks to the bond between the two characters. Some of their interactions are specific to their culture, such as fasting during Ramadan and donning their chadors and walking together to the mosque. The illustrations are created using a soft, inviting palette that incorporates tile and rug patterns particular to Iran. This book offers both windows and mirrors into a warm and loving familial relationship and will be appreciated by a wide range of young readers.

VERDICT A lovely book for anyone looking for intergenerational stories for one-on-one or group sharing.


For a little girl growing up in Iran, her grandmother is her beloved conduit to the rest of the world. "I followed her everywhere," she explains. "When she swept, I swept. When she cooked, I cooked. When she prayed, I prayed like her, too." Without overt announcement, the family's Muslim practices are revealed through namaz (prayers) at dawn, iftar (post-sunset meal) during Ramadan and a lively gathering at the mosque. Girl and Grandma also share best friends who live down the hall. Their differences might seem obvious--one grandmother with uncovered silver hair, the other in a white-with-purple-flowers chador; one girl who attends church, the other a mosque--but the intergenerational, mutual enjoyment never wavers. Grandma, meanwhile, stays forever constant, "kind, generous, and full of love," encouraging the girl's imagination and out-of-this-world determination.

In Mina Javaherbin's (Neymar) autobiographical My Grandma and Me, the grandmothers build a nurturing world for the next generation, with safe spaces from which to launch. While the girls play hopscotch, the grandmothers make quilts that will keep strangers warm, donated through their respective mosque and church. While the girl writes, Grandma sews gorgeous chadors... that the girl will later drape "on the table to build [a] rocket ship" or turn into a magical "super-astro-explorer" cape. Artist Lindsey Yankey's (Sun and Moon) soft, detailed art, reminiscent of Grace Lin's illustration, is a splendid complement to Javaherbin's loving homage. Yankey's intricate designs enhance every texture--rugs, clothing, home furnishings--inviting closer observations and encouraging deeper interaction and understanding. Decades after playdates and coffee klatches, what lingers longest are the binding memories of unwavering, accepting love.

Yankey’s mixed-media illustrations will transport readers to an idyllic twentieth-century Iran, recalling the style of Persian art, with dusty, muted colors and intricately patterned rugs…While this book presents a relationship in a specific cultural context, a subtle message of interreligious peace and unity shines through, supported by the memories’ emotional universality, through which young readers will learn empathy and cultural understanding.