Cora is very close to her grandmother. The family is getting together to celebrate grandma's 70th birthday. There is a lot of catching up, eating and laughter. Cora wants to find the perfect birthday present. Though the house is filled with family, Grandma still finds time for Cora.
"Cora liked being surrounded by family, but she missed having Grandma all to herself. She missed the walk on the beach she and Grandma took almost every day in the summer. After dinner Cora left the noisy kitchen for the quiet porch where she could watch the moonlight sparkle on the ocean. She tried to think of a birthday gift for Grandma. Cora was lost in thought when Grandma found her. "I am thinking of taking a beach walk," said Grandma. "But it's nighttime," said Cora. "It might be scary out there by yourself." "Then maybe someone could come with me to hold my hand." "Maybe someone could." Cora was happy to have Grandma all to herself again."
On their walk Grandma tells Cora about her sister Aura who she hasn't seen since leaving Cape Verde. Grandma gets lost in memories of Cape Verde, telling Cora why she had to leave. Bates captures the beauty of Cora and Grandma's relationship with little effort. There's a wonderful magical moment that helps Cora find the perfect gift.
The author smoothly includes facts about the country of Cape Verde into the story.
From a national dish to way special way to keep in touch.
"Grandma stood silently looking out at the ocean in the Old Country. The night before I left Cape Verde, there was a warm breeze just like tonight. We stood on the beach and made a promise that we would send each other as many mantenbas as there are stars." "As many what?" Cora asked. "Mantenhas. Messages. Sending a mantenha is like saying hello, but more. It means, though you are far away, I want to keep you in my life."
I really enjoyed this story. It was so well done all around. Davis illustrations are beautiful. I love the many blues the seaside. When Grandma gets lost in her memories, Davis an excellent job of capturing the longing on her face.
This is Bates, picture book debut. Grandma was inspired by the author's own grandmother and it shows. The beauty of Cora and Grandma's relationship is captured with little effort. I really really enjoyed this story. It's so well done all around.