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“Even real astronauts need a break, love,” Grama. –Grama’s Hug
by Amy Nielander
When May comes to live with Grama, they become an unstoppable team. Together they create art, birdwatch, and prepare inventions for the annual space fair. And they never, ever say goodbye without a hug. But when May wins the opportunity of a lifetime and gets ready to take off—literally—on her own, Grama worries: will May leave on her longest adventure yet without a hug?
May wants to “soar” just like the birds. With Grama’s help, May makes bird wings so she and Grama can go on adventures. “May wanted to take off to the stars one day. So, every year she prepared for the space fair and Grama eagerly assisted.” With the help of illustrations, the reader is able to see May’s science fair projects win year after year.
The relationship between May and Grama is sweet, and the two clearly love spending time together. The story begins with May going to live with her Grama. However, the reader does not know why. Readers will enjoy both May’s imagination and her love of science. While several pages show May receiving awards at the annual space fair, the story skips the hard work that goes into each project and unrealistically shows May winning the space fair five years in a row.
The whimsical illustrations are full of color and add beautiful details that children will enjoy looking at over and over. Birds appear in many of the pictures, which help reinforce May’s desire to fly. Grama and May even make their own wings and pretend to fly off to find a new planet. Several illustrations show May with a group of children from diverse backgrounds which shows that science isn’t just for one type of person, but is for everyone.
While children may not understand all the story’s themes, they will understand the importance of imagination and having big dreams. The story is a little disjointed and has some unrealistic parts, but the main theme is clear—everyone can make their dreams come true. Grama’s Hug is a picture book with 1 to 3 sentences per page. Some of the sentences are complex and will require the story to be read by a parent before it is read independently. Grama’s Hug allows readers to see the importance of hugs and saying goodbye and will inspire readers to dream big. Space loving readers should also check out Mousetronaut by Mark Kelly and Mae Among The Stars by Roda Ahmed.
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