________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 40. . . .June 17, 2016


My Two Grandmothers.

Diane Carmel Léger. Illustrated by Jean-Luc Trudel.
Halifax, NS: Nimbus, 2016.
32 pp., pbk., $12.95.
ISBN 978-1-77108-400-0.

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by Gillian Richardson.

***1/2 /4



Memere takes quick little steps in her high heels, back and forth, between her house and her general store next door. When she wants to go farther, she drives her big fancy car. At full speed, she sings at the wheel with the windows rolled down. Despite the wind, not a hair moves in her backcombed hairdo.

Nannie walks with slow strides in her comfortable shoes, all through the village and on the paths through the nearby woods. When she wants to go farther, she takes the bus, which is as slow as a snail with all its stops. But this slow pace does not bother her in the least, because it gives her time to admire the countryside.


In our multicultural society, this story of one family’s dual ancestry will resonate with many youngsters. The narrator (one of the grandchildren) describes Memere, an Acadian grandma and her French customs, and Nannie Henrietta with her Scottish traditions, shown side by side on the double page spreads. In a 1960s setting, we learn about appearances, daily lifestyle, personalities, pets, activities when the kids visit, foods, and Christmas rituals. Through the details that compare and contrast the two cultures, a picture of unity emerges in the ways the six siblings relate to both of their grandmothers. In the end, even though the two grandmothers are “as different from each other as a bee from a hen or the sun from the moon”, it is family love that holds them all closely together.

     The text and watercolor/ink illustrations are well-integrated, beginning with a full spread view of the world’s second-longest covered bridge, Rockland Bridge, in New Brunswick, that links the communities of the two grandmothers. Animated drawings in muted tones show the family engaged in various activities, and reveal the distinct personalities of Memere and Nannie Henrietta. The overall result is a homey, comfortable, and easy-going feel, much like snuggling in the warmth of a grandmother’s lap. It will be interesting for readers to note the low-tech lifestyle of the 60s where kids earn favorite treats by helping price and shelve cans of food in the store or making cookies, play simple (outdoor!) games, gather berries or enjoy holiday goodies with no computers or cell phones in sight. It’s a historical slice of life in a distinctly Canadian setting for families to share and appreciate, and perhaps to encourage children to ask about their own heritage.

     My Two Grandmothers is a quiet, thoughtful book, with a deep message of respect and acceptance for ways that may be different but equally valued. There is no author or illustrator information included, but a glossary of French and Scottish terms and a list of how to say grandmother and grandfather in 22 languages complete the book. The book is a translation of Memere Soleil, Nannie Lune.

Highly Recommended.

Gillian Richardson is a freelance writer living in BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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