Review By HOMA WOODRUM
How to Take Your Grandmother to the Museum is written by Lois Wyse and Molly Rose Goldman and illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay (the illustrator of the lovely Houndsley and Catina series previously reviewed on Vegbooks). I was drawn to this book when searching for other books by the illustrator and couldn’t resist the title. What a fun book! You might worry from the title that the tone would be one of condescension to the titular grandmother but the story is set up as a young girl loving her adventures with her grandmother so much that when she discovers her grandmother has never been to the Natural History Museum she wants to take her. Molly has just been there on a school field trip so she gets to be the expert.
I love that the story features a little girl who is interested in the natural world – her bedroom is decorated with bugs, space posters, and dinosaurs. I think this book is lovely for both boys and girls but it is important for young girls to have smart, curious girls to identify with. “We’ll be doing a lot of walking,” Molly warns her grandmother, “so remember to wear comfortable shoes.” Mixed with the illustrated components are photos of exhibits so the reader gets to see photos of dinosaur bones and animal exhibits much like you would see in your local museum of natural history. Molly does not spare any detail with her grandmother, telling her “Pterosaurs are flying reptiles […] Tuxpuxuara had a wingspan of 8 feet, but Pteranodon was even bigger. It had a wingspan of 23 feet.” The details fascinated my three and a half year old daughter.
Some notes for veg parents, a conversation between Molly and her grandma mentions T. rex teeth being “like giant steak knives.” I liked how they view the scenes of animals in their natural habitats but many natural history museums use the actual animals stuffed for exhibits set in dioramas so those are depicted as well as pinned insects. Another important scene to mention occurs when Molly and Grandma view the ostriches:
“I once had a hat with an ostrich plume,” she said.
“Grandma! Did you kill a bird for one of its feathers?”
“I didn’t, but somebody did. We don’t do that anymore.”
I breathed a sigh of relief. “Good,” I said. “We have to save our wildlife.”
At the end of their visit, Grandma buys Molly a rock for her rock collection and the book rounds out with details about some of the exhibits and words used in the book. The book is 48 pages so it is not a quick read but my daughter (and I) loved it. An endnote lets the reader know the book is based on a true story, Molly really did go with her grandma to the museum:
As we walked the halls of the museum, I felt totally connected– the connection not only of Molly and me, but the connection of life to life, of the living to the living and the once-alive to the yet-to-be-born. When we reached the street, I hugged my granddaughter and thanked her. No, this is not an easy world we share. But what a joy to be alive.