The bookworm is a series of posts following a trail of vintage picture books, linking them by author, title, subject, or whatever else takes my fancy.
Following on from Natasha's New Doll, the next stop in our Bookworm trail is also illustrated by Frank Francis: Grandmother Lucy and Her Hats by Joyce Wood.
This is a sweet, sweet book about a little girl who visits her grandmother. They go rummage around in the attic, look at all the treasures, and then Lucy tries on all her hats. They have tea, and then the girl goes home.
It might sound like rather a dull story, but it's descriptions are lovely and it has a great deal of warmth.
The book has a nice slow pace, and it's very gentle. Frank Francis's illustrations have a slightly dreamy, fuzzy quality which really suit the tone of the story, though the colours are quite vivid which match the way that simple things can seem huge and interesting to children.
One of the unusual things about the book is that it is written in first person, which is not something you see very often in picture books. Wood does a really good job of describing things from a child's point of view:
"The attic was full, so that there was hardly room for our feet. They had to be fitted in the spaces like the last pieces of a jigsaw puzzle."
"All the buttons in the world were in that little box, big round gold ones lie soldiers have, shiny red ones, soft green ones and round black ones for eyes, blue ones and little ones and big ones. The made a lovely shivery button noise when I shook them."
It's nice to see a picture book without rhymes, or gimmicks, or flaps, or crazy fonts, that just focuses on simple things. I think it's a good reminder that children do find everyday little things fascinating, and that they don't always need lots of drama and fantasy to be entertained.
About the author
I'm afraid I wasn't able to find out anything about Joyce Wood. It looks as though she wrote four books in the Grandmother Lucy series. Hats is the first (1968), followed by Grandmother Lucy Goes for a Picnic (1970) Grandmother Lucy in her Garden (1972) and Grandmother Lucy's Birthday (1974). It doesn't appear she ever published anything else.
Details and availability
- Title: Grandmother Lucy and Her Hats
- Author: Joyce Wood
- Illustrator: Frank Francis
- Date: 1968
- Link to previous: same illustrator.
Sadly, all the 'Grandmother' books are out of print and are quite scarce now. You can get slightly cheaper paperbacks (Collins Lions), but it's probably difficult to find a decent copy. You can buy my copy in my bookshop here. Or search Biblio via the link below. I do get a very small commission, but it would be much appreciated 🙂