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Grand Fathers: Reminiscences, Poems, Recipes, and Photos of the Keepers of Our Traditions Hardcover – June 15, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Know your history!" These words, uttered by the man whom artist Ashley Bryan adopted as a grandfather, are taken to heart by all of the contributors to this collection, a companion volume to Giovanni's Grand Mothers. While some of the 47 writers of these poems and reminiscences (and even a song) celebrate the relationship between grandfather and grandchild, the majority focus on documenting the lives of the men who came before them, setting down details of births, marriages, children and careers as a testament to their courage, strong wills and, occasionally, to their failures. Eugenia Collier crafts a toast to her step-grandfather, born "in the first generation after slavery"; Walter J. Leonard relates the pithy words of wisdom he learned from his grandfather's experience as teacher and minister. In a finely honed piece, Lydie Raschka writes of her Norwegian grandfather ("Talking was not his strong point"), who raised his two children alone after his wife's suicide. Marina Budhos attests, in spare language, to the power of her Russian Jewish grandfather even after he disowns his daughter. Few of the pieces tell a sustained story; rather, like mosaics, they capture their subjects by juxtaposing small snippets of a life one against another. This technique, as well as the mature insights and sensibilities of the essayists, may attract more adults than teens. Though a fitting homage, this volume, with its smattering of handsome black-and-white photographs, is most effective as a moving collection of American social history. Ages 11-up. (June)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 6 Up-A companion volume to Giovanni's Grand Mothers (Holt, 1995). More than 40 individuals from all walks of life have contributed pieces to this anthology, and the literary quality and interest level vary considerably. Some of the pieces are by well-known writers and poets-Liz Rosenberg, Rita Dove, and Ashley Bryan-while others are by first-time authors. Some of the vignettes and biographical sketches reveal more about the writers than about their subjects; few are memorable. There are some links with history, notably in a section on great grandfathers of Civil War vintage, but many of the portraits never rise above the conventional and predictable. The overall effect is of repetition, forgivable in an oral-history project, but less tolerable in a children's book perhaps. While these grandfathers were important figures to the writers, few of them have been able to convey a compelling sense of the individuality or larger significance of the men in question.
Patricia Lothrop-Green, St. George's School, Newport, RI
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); 1st edition (June 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805054847
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805054842
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,401,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By A Customer on April 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Nikki Giovanni has opened our hearts to the songs, influence, and love of many grandfathers. The stories, poems, and photographs of the beloved grandfathers of others quickly embrace the unconditional love many of us received from our own grandfathers, and stir the desires for that love from those who were denied. This book made me laugh, cry, and remember a grandfather who was so special to me. This outstanding collection spans generations and cultures. It would be a welcome addition to a literature study of grandfathers as it invites readers to recall their own memoirs of these significant people in our lives. As Giovani states in her introduction, "Grandfathers are like the rest of us who are struggling to make sense of this world. They are the tears we shed. They are the stars we wish upon, for it is grandfathers... who let us see what loving relationships should be." Read this book to renew your own memories and appreciation of grandfathers.
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By A Customer on April 16, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This sensitive, lovely set of reminiscences has at itsfoundation a very important theme. African American men are present inthe lives of their families and have made a difference. Too often stereotypes emphasize that African American men are not around their families and do not take any responsibility for them, and that most African American families are run by females. This book counters such unfounded stereotypes with wonderful recollections of the great influence African American men have had on their families. This influence is very important for readers to recognize, and this book provides readers with understanding that will hopefully contradict negative stereotypes. END
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