Prather's Pick: A lot to be learned from ‘How to Babysit a Grandma’

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Most busy parents leave their children with Grandpa and Grandma at one time or another so that the grandparents can baby-sit their grandchildren. However, the children might look at baby-sitting the other way around.

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Diane Prather

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Courtesy Image

"How to Babysit a Grandma" by Jean Reagan

“How to Babysit a Grandma,” by Jean Reagan and illustrated by Lee Wildish, was brought to my attention by my sister, Darlene Blackford, who lives in Rocky Ford. Darlene conducts workshops for early childhood teachers, so she’s always looking for children’s books that she can use. She knows that I teach children’s literature, so she keeps her eyes out for books I can use, too. When she came to visit recently, she brought me a copy of this week’s book.

As “How to Babysit a Grandma” begins, Dad, Mom and a blonde-headed little girl are headed to Grandma’s house. The little girl is excited; the reader can tell by the way she keeps taking pictures with her camera.

Grandma’s house resembles a cottage. It’s cream-colored, with a red front door and a red garage door. Through the window, the reader can see a little white dog sitting on the couch.

The cute little dog has black ears and feet and a few black spots on his white coat. The dog looks puzzled. What is going on?

And then the little girl and her parents are at the front door. Grandma, a lovable woman with white hair and white pompoms on her shoes, greets them. As Dad and Mom get ready to leave, the little girl begins giving the reader tips about baby-sitting Grandma, beginning with what to tell “your” parents as they leave. You say, “Don’t be sad. I’ll be home soon.”

This trip to Grandma’s is a sleepover, so there’s plenty of time for Grandma to choose her favorite activities. The little girl has a list of things to keep Grandma busy, but she will let Grandma choose — after all, the little girl is the baby sitter.

Grandma wants to go to the park. The dog goes, too, because now he’s figured out what’s going on, and he’s part of each activity.

The little girl has a list of activities to do at the park, as well, such as feeding the ducks and sliding on the bumpy slide — even the tallest slide if Grandma is feeling brave. The little girl tells the reader to remind Grandma to pump her legs when swinging.

Back at home, there are more ideas for “playing with Grandma.” For example, you can line up all of her shoes to play Shoe Shop. The dog even tries on shoes.

And then it’s fun to decorate Grandma with bows, jewelry and stickers. Grandma looks at herself in the mirror as the little girl takes her picture.

Dinnertime can be yummy, especially when you share your cooking tips. Add sprinkles to most everything, and arrange your vegetables on a plate to make a funny face.

So the picture book continues in this manner, with the little girl giving her tips for what to do after dark and ideas for where to sleep. Before long, it’s morning, and the book tells ways to say "goodbye" to Grandma.

This picture book will tug at your heart. For me, it brought back memories of years past when our grandchildren were the baby sitters. The illustrations are wonderful.

The book’s author, Jean Reagan, is a Salt Lake City resident, and illustrator Lee Wildish lives in Nottinghamshire, England. Before this book, the pair created “How to Babysit a Grandpa,” which was a New York Times best-seller and winner of a Parents’ Choice Fun Stuff Award and an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Award.

I think that these books would make great gifts for grandparents. The books, published by Alfred A. Knopf, cost $16.99 in hardcover. “How to Babysit a Grandma” has a 2014 copyright.

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