Nana in the City
By Lauren Castillo
As the typical nuclear family spreads across the country, and even across continents, grandma or Nana, as she is referred to here, may not be living next door, or even around the block, but a plane ride away. Lauren Castillo’s, “Nana in the City”, winner of a Caldecott Honor designation in 2015, addresses young ones visiting one such Nana in her new city apartment.
And, it’s certainly not what this young one is used to at home. He loves his Nana, but the city…not so much. The city is busy, loud, and filled with, as he points out to Nana, “scary things.”
He’s worried about Nana living in such a place. To her, the city is none of these things. Her adjectives are just the opposite of his…. to Nana, it’s bustling, booming and extraordinary.
Can Nana convince her grandson that the city is all of these things, yet allay his city fears? My money’s on Nana.
A sleepless night keeps him up, and Nana gets right to work on the remedy. It’s red, handmade, and fancy. In a word, it’s a cape for courage; knitted in a trice overnight!
Armed and garbed, Nana allows her grandson to see the city through her eyes; eyes of a mature wisdom that though older, are still open to new experiences and less tentative to what is new and unfamiliar.
After all, the move to the city must have been an adjustment for Nana, too?
Her lesson in learning to accept change and embrace new experiences is bracing for both reader and grandson.
And, of course that comforting red invincibility cape, and the comforting hand of Nana certainly doesn’t hurt either.
With a perky red feather poking out atop her wide brimmed red-banded hat, topped off with a red shoulder bag and boots, this city Nana in the bright yellow coat with splashes of red, and bright eyes peering out from red-rimmed sunglasses, she is Mother Courage on the move with grandson in tow. Hey, she even has a pair of blue-rimmed glasses for indoor use that are equally elegant and in.
And, as this young one tries on this piece of overnight knitted courage, there is an emotional sea change afoot:
I felt brave in my cape.
And off they go to a city that is still busy and still noisy, but…suddenly not scary.
There are passels of dogs to be petted and big pretzels to pass out to someone in need.
The city is big and full of pushcarts filled with food, street musicians turning riffs, impromptu dancers whirling, and bicycles pedaling to and fro.
And guess what? Though it might not be a forever home, this young boy finds it to be the perfect place to visit a Nana who is loved and safe….especially with that red cape about her shoulders, as he later climbs into a waiting cab, and says good bye…just for now.
Extraordinary things can happen in a busy, noisy city, with a bit of red wool, some generational wisdom that comes with age, and the love that can span every fear, and make them all seem okay, when seen through and with, Nana’s eyes.
If you have a young one that is racking up frequent flier miles visiting Nana or Grandpa that live a distance away, and even if that distance can only measured in a long car ride, then this book is a great read to tuck in the backpack as they exit the door, or even read aloud to them before they drive away for that visit.
The unfamiliar can be scary at times to children….but just till they become familiar when accompanied by family, and seen through the fresh eyes of someone with loads of hard-earned wisdom….like a Nana.
See you next time, Nana!
Love those red boots and bag!
And the hat….well, that’s stylin’!
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