Grambo: A Children’s Book Review

Erin Britt reviews & interviews

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My grandma’s house spelled like a mixture of bleach and cake. That’s usually because whenever I was there she was cleaning and baking. My grandma was a superhero in my mind when I was a child. She was a superhero storyteller when she talked about what it was like growing up during the Depression. She was a superhero in the kitchen when she always made my favorite dinners and special desserts when we would visit.  She was a superhero comfort-hug-love-understanding-care-giver. 

To this day when I smell bleach, I think of my grandma

My children are lucky enough to have very active and fun grandparents in their lives. Grandparents, who not only love them, but play with them too. Baseball games in the backyard (Grandma is quite a pitcher), rowdy card games, holiday parties with scavenger hunts, and of course the famous (and everyone’s favorite) candy bar Bingo on the Fourth of July. They also show up. They show up at all their grandchildren’s football games, basketball games, school plays, classroom parties, dance recitals and whatever else is going on in the children’s lives. The relationship between my children and their grandparents is some kind of wonderful.

Beth Navarro’s new children’s book, Grambo, captures this type of special relationship between a child and a grandparent in a lighthearted, fun and action-packed way. The main character Ryan has suspicions that his grandma whom he loves very much has a secret. Or rather a secret life. After some digging and sleuthing Ryan uncovers her secret, and a whole new admiration of his grandma. He discovers his sweet grandma is a CIA spy! The discovery brings the two of them closer; Ryan starts calling her Grambo (her spy name).

The book is a fun read that both little children and pre-tweens can enjoy. My children ages 4-12 liked the story. The colorful illustrations by Betsy Hamilton help tell the exciting adventures of Ryan and his grandma, which include a hostage recovery situation.

Navarro wrote the book for her own grandma, Jean. “Her nickname was Grambo,” she explains. “It was so much fun to write a story about a rockin’ secret agent granny.”

Navarro hopes kids take a look at their own grandparents after reading this book. “I would love it if kids think what Ryan thinks at the end of the story—that grandmas can do anything!,” she says. “They have so much to offer. They have a Grambo of their own even if their grandma may not be a secret agent like Ryan’s is in the book.”

The book can also lead to discussions about grandmas and grandpas in our lives. After we were done reading, my children and I talked about what they love about their grandma. I told them stories about mine. We talked about what they will always remember, what they will tell their children about theirs.

Grandmas can be such a huge part of children’s lives—whether they are superheroes in the CIA or in the important business of caregiving. Navarro’s book, Grambo, is a sweet,  action-packed story of the some kind of wonderful that is grandmas and their grandchildren.

Grambo is published by Be There Bedtime Stories and is on sale starting March 26. They have a few fun promotions: If you buy four or more books (which would be a great idea for all the cousins) you get a free book; If you buy three books you get a bonus Grambo illustration (which are really colorful and quirky) print autographed by the illustrator. 

For more information about Beth Navarro go to her web site

About the Author

Erin Britt

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