With its beautiful imagery and vibrant illustrations, GRANDMOTHER, HAVE THE ANGELS COME? celebrates the relationship between old and young…a joyful meditation on growing old as seen through the eyes of a young girl…This is a book to treasure.” ~ Annie, CRAZY FOR KIDS BOOKS
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I wrote it pretty quickly – maybe in a few days, and then started revising it over several weeks. I think it took me about four to five months to have a draft I liked enough to show others.
Where did you get the idea for the book?
We spent a lot of time around my grandmother when I was growing up and then as an adult, I watched her age and saw how she slowed down, her sight got worse, and her hearing. I knew this was difficult for her, as she had been so active and vibrant when she was younger. I started thinking about how we all grow old and what if we could look at these losses (loss of sight, loss of hearing, loss of mobility) as positive in some way? That was the seed of this book.
Did you have a close relationship with your grandmother(s) like the girl in the book?
My maternal grandmother, who inspired the book, was also sort of an exotic woman to me growing up. She and my grandfather traveled to foreign countries and had lots of things in their house from these countries. Beautiful carvings and furniture from India, trinkets from Afghanistan, art from Brazil. Our favorite was the stuffed piranha they kept on a shelf by their front door!
What inspired the imagery for the book?
This is such a great question! I took each sense (hearing, touch, taste, etc) and played around with what came to mind. Sometimes something grabbed me right away and I stuck with it, other times I know I played with a few images before one felt right. It’s been awhile since I wrote the book so I can’t give specific examples, but that’s what I remember.
Did you have negative feelings about aging? If so, did writing this book help you understand/deal with them?
I think the idea of aging can be scary because there are so many things I want to do and I don’t like the thought that I might be limited someday. But I’m already limited in middle age and I’ve adapted. Writing this book was definitely a way for me to come to terms with my fears and also some of my attitudes about older people. I remember feeling very annoyed as a child when I had to repeat things over and over because my grandmother hadn’t heard me. Or I’d have to listen to the same story from her because she didn’t remember that she’d already told me. Now, as an adult, I have such respect for those who have had a lot of time on this earth and who have seen and experience things I will never see or experience. I don’t mind repeating myself when I have to with an older person because I know that one day that will be me and I hope people won’t mind repeating themselves! Same with listening to a story again and again. If it’s meaningful to that person, why not hear it again? Maybe I’ll hear something different this time. Or maybe I won’t but I’m giving them the respect they deserve by listening politely and responding.
Awards & Accolades
- 2010 Américas Award Commended Title
- 2009 Living In Color Literary Award for best Children’s picture book
- 2010 COLORADO BOOK AWARD for Children’s Literature
- 2010 COLORADO TOP HAND AWARD for Children’s Book-length Fiction
- Grandmother, Have the Angels Come? is included in the Reading Is Fundamental 2009 Multicultural Library Booklist, which provides more than 400 multicultural children’s book collections to elementary school classrooms in low‐income communities throughout the United States. Click Here for the complete list.
“This book celebrates the aging of grandparents, and the honesty and curiosity that children have of their grandparents. It makes aging a beautiful thing, a beautiful journey to relish in, as it should be, as all chapters of our lives should be.” – Xomba
“This touching dialogue comes to life with sunny and swirly illustrations of the two smiling Latino characters and the various outdoor settings. A great book for teaching young children to respect and understand the differences between their own young, growing bodies and the changes they will see in their elders.” – The Crimson Review
“The affection that pours from the pages is strong and believable.” – Publishers Weekly
“The topic of aging can be difficult to explain to a young child but is discussed here with sensitivity and great tenderness. The illustrations create a visual experience with the use of bold vibrant colors swirling across the pages. The love felt between the grandmother and her granddaughter are well expressed not only in the text but visually through the illustrations. The text is rich in descriptive phrases that enhance the imagination and call up memories of a loved one: “…see your beauty reflected in the dewdrop on a flower”, “savor flavors long on my tongue “, “stroke your cheeks in the light and in the darkness”. This is a joyful book that reaffirms the beauty in living a long life and the love between generations.” – Judge for CAL Awards
“Vega…manages to convey an acceptance of a stage in life that many Americans are loathe to embrace…Lyrical and warm…” – School Library Journal
“I like the book’s positive approach to aging and eventually dying. Aging (and by extension dying) is seen as a gift from the angels – something to be treasured rather than dreaded. Each page permeates with the affection the grandmother has for her granddaughter. The vibrant colors and swirls help intensify the emotions.” – Muhammed Hassanali
“…one of the most beautiful books I’ve read in a long, long time…[it] captures the wide-eyed curiosity young children…and pulls the heartstrings in that indeciperable way that transforms a simple children’s book into an all-time classic…This one isn’t just a must for your granddaughter’s library…it truly is a must for your own.” – by Rita Lorraine Hubbard, Young Adult (and Kids) Books Central, www.yabookscentral.com
“…a joyful meditation on growing old as seen through the eyes of a young girl…This is a book to treasure.” – Annie, Crazy for Kids Books
“Combining the wisdom of age with the curiosity of youth, this book is a delight. Beautifully illustrated with scenes celebrating nature — the sun, butterflies, clouds, wind, orchards of fruit — the pages vibrantly excite the imagination, pulling the reader into cosmic mysteries unspoken.” – Newsvine
“Using lyrical verses and symbolic imagery, author Denise Vega touches on the relationship between a grandmother and granddaughter and explores the mysteries of aging. …With amazing wisdom and love, the Grandmother answers the questions in a unique, reassuring way.” – Brimful Curiosities
“Each page has a great rhythm and this is easily a good read-aloud book. I recommend it, and once you have read, I believe that you will too.” – Creative Madness
Grandmother, Have the Angels Come? is a wonderful book to share with your class or for story time at your library. Below are links to plans, activities, and coloring pages you can use in conjunction with the book. (Requires Adobe® Reader®)
Designed to help students use the book to learn a variety of concepts such as language and science.Activities Guide & Reproducibles
Audio Files (zipped) to be used with the Science Activity, which explores the five senses. NOTE: If you can’t unzip, contact the moderator so she can send them to you individually.Audio Files
An easy craft to do with your child or class.“Light up your world” Candles
Grandmother and granddaughter flying and Grandmother holding granddaughterColor Pages
For information on possible discounts when purchasing a classroom set of books, please contact the moderator.
ACTIVITIES FOR INTERGENERATIONAL SETTINGS
For those who work in a elder community that interacts with kids, these activities are ideal for getting the generations talking, laughing, and working together!Intergenerational Unit Guide
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