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Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs (Picture Puffin Books) Paperback – April 3, 2000

4.8 out of 5 stars 78 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Full-color pictures, newly created by the author 15 years after the book's original publication, add to this spirited true story based on dePaola's childhood memories of his grandmothers. Fans of his Newbery Honor book 26 Fairmount Avenue will recognize these winning matriarchs. Ages 3-7.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Ages 3^-7. Originally published in 1973, this autobiographical picture book was one of the first to introduce very young children to the concept of death. Given its graceful treatment of a difficult subject, it has been a parental staple ever since, and a new generations of readers will be glad to discover this timeless tale in a lovely new edition. In an appended note, dePaola says he approached this project "as a completely new book." Thus, the format is larger than formerly, the pictures have been re-done in full color, and even the text has been slightly modified, though the story remains the same: every Sunday four-year-old Tommy's family goes to visit his grandparents. His grandmother is always busy downstairs, but his great-grandmother is always to be found in bed upstairs, because she is 94 years old. Tommy loves both of his nanas and the time he spends with them. He is desolate when his upstairs nana dies, but his mother comforts him by explaining that "she will come back in your memory whenever you think about her." Although dePaola's book is a nostalgic tribute to his own family, its theme--that not only people but our love for them survives in our memories--is universally true and important. Michael Cart --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: AD530L (What's this?)
  • Series: Picture Puffin Books
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin Books; Reissue edition (April 3, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0698118367
  • ISBN-13: 978-0698118362
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.2 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #83,710 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful tale of a 4-year-old boy's close relationship with his 94-year-old great-grandmother. His great-grandmother lives in the upstairs bedroom of the house with his grandmother and grandfather, who play a lesser role in the book. The little boy has a weekly routine of visiting "Nana Upstairs" and sharing mints with her. It is nice to see an elderly person being cared for in the home of relatives rather than in a nursing home! She is so frail that she can't sit upright unassisted, so she is tied into a chair. Don't worry; this is not a scary thing! The little boy also insists on being tied in, so they can be alike. Eventually Nana Upstairs dies. This is not over dramatized and my children were not upset about this, perhaps because the boy is comforted when he sees a falling star in the sky and thinks it is a sign that Nana Upstairs is sending him a kiss. Years later we see the boy as an adult and we find out that Nana Downstairs has died, and he sees another shooting star and is again comforted.
This is a lovely picture book representing a strong bond between a grandparents and their grandson. If you enjoy this book, you'll also like Tomie DePaola's "Now One Foot, Now the Other".
I learned of this book by reading an analysis of it in the book "Inside Picture Books" by Ellen H. Spitz, which is a very detailed analysis of the content of picture books focusing on themes of bedtime, separation, grandparents, death, children's behaviors/manners, and a child's self-concept and self-esteem.
My 3 and 6 year old sons love the book as do I! We originally borrowed it from the library but this is one we'll have to buy so I can keep up with their repeated requests for it!
The older version has pictures in pink, tan, and black. The new version has more colors in the illustrations. Both versions are illustrated by Tomie DePaola.
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Format: Paperback
This work was pretty impressive and this comes from one who is not overly fond of the "death and dying" genre of children's literature. This is a story of a young mans relation ship with his great-grandmother and grandmother and the love between them. The book is of course about the loss of a loved one, one who has been apart of your life for as long as you can remember. The subject is delt with in a loving and sensitive way. There are no real tears here, no real sadness, rather a justifiable feeling of loss at first, but then understanding. This is a situation faced by most children from time to time and in fact all of us have probably gone through this sort of expierence. This book is quite useful in talking to children about the subject of death and approaches it in a very positive way. This illustrations are great and the text is simple, to the point, and follows the illustrations quite well. This is one of those books that I think either the parent or teacher could well read with the child as is is bound to bring up some good questions. Recommend this one highly.
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Format: Paperback
Young Tommy struggles through his happy childhood having two nana's. He loves both of them very much. One is his great grama and the other his gramma. One is very old and stays upstairs, so she is nana upstairs and the same with nana downstairs. One day, n.u. dies and tommy is sad. He wakes up in the middle of the night and sees a shooting star. His mommy says it is a kiss. Well as tommy grows, the same happens to n.d. It happens all over again. I loved this book, it made me cry when i first read it when i was 2.
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Another book that my students love to read. After reading 26 Fairmount Ave as a class read aloud, my students are hooked on anything Tomie dePaola. We did an author study in class on the author, this book was an optional read, and many kids were eager to choose it. These books are also a great read if you are studying autobiographies. I would recommend this book for elementary classroom libraries.
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By YogiK on November 20, 2013
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This is a really good book. Its not super entertaining though, but the topic is a difficult one, so that is expected. I'd like to read this more now and then or if the issue of dying or death, especially of a family member, comes up with the daughter. She's now 4 so its not something we talk about a lot.
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This was recommended by a friend to present the as yet unknown experience of death of a loved one to my younger children upon the impending death of a pet. It was a nice story, but made absolutely no connection for my purposes. I kept it for the day this issue comes up again... perhaps older children, or being applicable to the lost of a person, will make it more useful.

We ended up trying a number of books related to loss of a pet, but most solved the "problem" with the replacement of the dead pet with a new one! Not something we wanted to present, nor did we want them to think grief is resolved through replacement. I had hoped this book would help with that idea, but still didn't generalize well enough to our situation. By itself, it's a lovely story, which is just how my children perceived it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have the original edition published in sepia. It's a special story to me because I have a Nana I love so much. One of the first books written for children that discusses death, it does so in an appropriate way that makes the loss of a loved one....easier to understand. They're gone, but they never really leave.
A great story to share with your children.
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