Friday, December 19, 2008

Gran, You've Got Mail by Jo Hoestlandt (Delacorte, 2008)

Cindy: "Dear Gran, Hooray! Vacation! Just in time too, because I was fed up with school." (How many of us can relate to that line today?) Annabelle is typing and printing out letters to mail to her great grandmother to meet her father's demands to improve her keyboarding skills and, most days, Gran is happy to write back.There's honesty in the letter writing that these two share--neither of the age to worry much about offending. Annabelle dates one letter, "I don't know what day it is and I really don't care." In another letter Gran responds to her granddaughter's incredulous inquiry that she doesn't have a dishwasher: "I don't have a dishwasher simply because I like to dip my hands in water."

I exchanged letters for years with a post-office working, retired English teacher grandmother, who was a master at the art. This book made me long to open the mailbox to one of her letters with its new supply of commemorative stamps to keep my letters coming in return. Both grand and granddaughter have challenges they are dealing with (Annabelle a fight with her best friend and Gran a fight for her health) but the tender friendship that builds between them as they shore each other up is the real story.
Lynn: This is a sweet story, simple and direct, and the translation works well. I was surprised when I read that the movie Annabelle and her friends were seeing was Titanic as the book doesn’t have a dated feel. The growing relationship between the two builds nicely and the affection between them is touching and genuine without getting sappy. The title misleads a bit – kids may expect email – but once they start reading they might be inspired to try snail mail themselves. I didn’t love this as much as Cindy did but even a curmudgeon like me will find it a pleasant and worthwhile read.