Picture Book Snob
Five reasons why we love Granny Came Here on the Empire Windrush...
... and why you will too!
Written by Patrice Lawrence, illustrated by Camilla Sucre and published by Nosy Crow, this stunning story shares the experience of Ava's granny and her journey to the UK from Trinidad. It recognises the struggles and achievements of 'everyday heroes' with an uplifting text and fabulous illustrations. There are lots of reasons to love this book, but here are our top five...
We learned a lot Growing up in Ireland in the 1980s and the 1990s, which was not a multicultural country back then, I had never heard of the Empire Windrush or Windrush Day. Although I was familiar with the story of Rosa Parks, Winifred Atwell and Mary Seacole were new to me. I always enjoy a picture book that teaches me something along with my kids! I've since looked up Mary Seacole and Winifred Atwell and discovered that Winifred recorded a song my father always used to play for me as a child, 'How Much is that Doggie in the Window?'
There's so much to it From the warm sunshine and the scent of immortelle blossom to the contrasting concrete-grey landscape of London in the 1950s, the text and illustrations evoke different but equally fascinating worlds. Granny's trunk is so intriguing and I know my girls would love to rummage through it - as would I, and it's so clever how this is used as a framing device for the story. We love the romantic element and the first time we turned the page to reveal Granny's wedding day, my girls cheered! This is longer than the typical picture book so it was perfect for my five-year-old and her older sister who is seven and can read by herself but still likes to join in at storytime. The seven-year-old has been reading it by herself too.
Granny and Ava's relationship
The intergenerational relationship at the heart of the story is such a beautiful and moving aspect. I love how Ava and Granny bond through their mutual love of singing and the considerate way Granny speaks to Ava is brilliant to see too. It's wonderful how the book features the 'ordinary' people who travelled to the other side of the world, leaving everything they knew behind, acknowledges how challenging this was and celebrates how remarkable they are. There is a fitting tribute to Ava's granny and women like her in a decision Ava makes at the end that I won't spoil but I will say that it made me emotional the first time I read it.
The illustrations are gorgeous Camilla Sucre's artwork is so colourful and striking. My favourite spreads are those featuring Granny in the 1950s (her outfits are stunning and she is so stylish!) and the one of her childhood in Trinidad. The image of Ava on stage at school is adorable too.
There's an amazing and memorable line at the end
I love when Granny tells Ava that, 'Some people are more precious than all the gold in the world.' This is so true and so wonderful to be reminded of again at the story's conclusion (which I won't reveal).
Granny Came Here on the Empire Windrush was published by Nosy Crow in May 2022 - see this book on the publisher's website
As with all Nosy Crow picture books, this comes with a free 'Stories Aloud' digital download. Thanks so much to the lovely people in Nosy Crow for sharing this fabulous book with us - all opinions expressed are our own.