Three Cheers for Catherine the Great!

by Cari Best and Giselle Potter

Sara's grandma, who came to America from Russia "a long time ago," has requested... read more

Sara's grandma, who came to America from Russia "a long time ago," has requested no presents for her birthday. When Sara wonders how they can have a borscht and blintzes party for Grandma with no presents, her mother replies, "A good NO PRESENT can be anything from a kiss or a hug to a game of gin rummy-as long as it comes from deep inside you." Sara, her mother and grandma live in a lively city apartment building and everyone comes to Grandma's party with a "no present" to share: Monica and her hairdresser dad style Grandma's hair, dance teacher Mr. Minsky gives her a waltz, and opera fan Mary Caruso has learned Grandma's favorite Russian love song to sing. Sara, who has spent a week carefully observing her Russian-speaking grandma's life, has come up with a special "no present," too: she will teach Grandma to read and write English (and, it turns out, Grandma may teach Sara Russian, too). Cari Best's loving intergenerational family story features a child who loves the sound and playfulness of language. The text is sprinkled with Sara's poem-making, as well as Russian words and phrases. And it is peopled with colorful characters who form a tight-knit community that is delightfully visualized in Giselle Potter's distinctive, quirky illustrative style that is sophisticated rather than sweet but still captures all the warmth in this family and small community. Honor Book, 2000 Charlotte Zolotow Award (Ages 4-8)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2000

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