Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Slice of Life #52Stories14/52: Dueling Harmonicas!

Our new normal includes virtual story time with our two grand boys. It started because Jack missed the traditional bag of books that was part of our time together on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I knew I wanted to slice about one of our favorite books that we've read over and over before the current pandemic and also during the past month's virtual story times. See if the following clues can help you figure out the title of the book:
  • Its cheery colorful front cover makes me happy every time I pick up the book.
  • It is a love song to the special relationship between grandparents and grandchild.  
  • It is written from the viewpoint of the child.
  • It is Norton Juster's first picture book, published in 2005. 
  • It is illustrated by Chris Raschka.
  • Its focal point is a magical window.  
I wonder how many of those clues you needed before guessing the title of this favorite book. 

Life's big and little questions can be answered or wondered about in the pages of a children's picture book. Listen to the wisdom of the child narrator:
  • "Just before I go up to bed, Nanna turns off all the lights and we stand by the window and say good night to the stars. Do you know how many stars there are? Neither do I, but she knows them all."
  • "When I get tired I come in and take my nap and nothing happens until I get up."
  • "Mommy and Daddy pick me up after work. I'm glad because I know we're going home, but it makes me sad too because I have to leave Nanna and Poppy. You can be happy and sad at the same time, you know. It just happens that way sometimes." 
We love this book for its gorgeous illustrations, for the voice of the child narrator and because it was the catalyst for an unforgettable family memory.

This passage, "Sometimes Poppy plays his harmonica for me," prompted daughter Sara to hand Jack his harmonica.
It didn't take long for Grandpa to grab his harmonica too. And that's how Sunday's story time morphed into music time as I watched the dueling harmonicas of two boys!
 Did you notice the cover of the book beside the computer? In case you need to order it for the children or grandparents in your life, here's a close-up of the book that was the catalyst for this family memory on Sunday afternoon, March 29th, during the pandemic of 2020. 
If you don't have an independent bookstore to support during this time, feel free to contact my local favorite, Island Books. They ship free (for orders of more than 15 dollars) anywhere in the United States. 

Our local treasure, musician and storyteller Nancy Stewart, is providing weekly story time and Bedtime Tune Times virtually for our community during this time. You can access her videos by following her on Instagram, nancystewartmusic. Not just for kids, her soothing voice and songs can calm your anxiety and coax your inner child to sleep. Take it from me, you don't have to have children in your home to benefit from Nancy's Bedtime Tune Times.


  1. Oh, Ramona - the photos of Grandpa and Jack playing harmonica at their screens-! A slice of poignant joy if ever there was one. I am always impressed by your extensive knowledge of books; how fitting is this one when we are having to say hello and good-bye through the "magic window" of our screens? My heart is utterly warmed by Jack missing his bag of books ... and your solution.

  2. Love this, Ramona, and yes, I recognized it because it's a favorite in our house, too. I even have a window in my kitchen where we pretended the story. I love that you captured this special story!

  3. Thank you, Ramona. As a grandparent this had me in tears- good years, which we all need right now.

  4. This makes me grin from ear to ear

  5. Ramona, Sierra does not have this book but on Zoom last night she asked me to read 2 books and then she shared her new book with me. She turned the book to face the screen and I read. What a magical time we had. I see that you have similar wonderful times. We are very luck to have technology to connect our grandkids with us. Thank for all the clues. I have not read the book you shared in a long time so I enjoyed the book title hunt.

  6. Ramona, I love this. You are very good at holding together a close knit family. They're lucky to have you!
    Shine on,