June 26, 2022 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Book Review: Baby Grandma: A Children’s Book for Grownups Too

Those who have followed the poetry scene in Southern California know about FrancEyE (aka Frances Dean Smith). She has been reading and publishing her poetry since the 1960s and until recently, lived in Ocean Park.

FrancEyE wrote Grandma Stories for her grandson, Nikhil Henry Bukowski Sahoo. Like all grandparents, she told stories, in this case, stories about her early life. To make things simpler, she called herself “Baby Grandma” and in somewhat later incarnations, “First Grade Grandma,” “Soldier Grandma” (when she was in the WACs during WW II), and “Poet Grandma.”

This lovely little book, Grandma Stories, contains a collection of some of FrancEyE’s stories about her childhood and other key incidents in her life. The subjects of her stories often touch on very adult themes – the conflicts of her parents, illness, prejudice, and death. What is breathtaking about these seemingly simple tales is how well the innocent voice is used to describe the difficult, and sometimes scary, aspects of human existence.

The book begins with “Born,” describing “Baby Grandma’s” birth in 1922, “in a little hospital run by nuns. There has been a terrible automobile accident in the icy weather and the nuns are very busy. They have Baby Grandma’s Mama folding bandages while she waits for Baby Grandma to be born.”

During the ensuing years, “Baby Grandma” experiences frequent moves to different locales. She learns the hard way that early physical experimentation with the very young boy next door is not allowed, and that a man who “looks like a clown” is actually the Chinese laundryman. One understands from these accounts the meaning of FrancEyE’s pen name. It takes a frankness, a complete purity of intent, to tell stories about childhood sexuality and misunderstanding about racial characteristics. Because FrancEyE is honest and gentle in her storytelling, the incidents do not come across as crude or insensitive.

Grandma, as she moves through the stages of school that cause her to be First-Grade, Second-Grade, and Third-Grade Grandma, has to deal with other hardships – anemia, a death in the family, being told she can’t play with a friend who is Irish. She learns how it is to be lonely and decides that, “she will get along without friends. She does not know that this is something that no one can do, so she tries.” Her friends, she concludes, for much of the rest of her life, will be friends found in books.

There may have been more stories about “Teen Grandma” than are represented here–but then again, those stories may be waiting for FrancEyE’s grandson to reach the appropriate age.

But the last story realizes the solution to a special challenge: what if your grandfather is Charles Bukowski, a rough-and-ready writer and poet, known for his hard life and hard drinking habits? How do you tell a child how he came to be because Grandma had a child (Nikhil’s mother) with Bukowski?

“Poet Grandma was lonesome,” FrancEyE writes. “So she wrote a letter to the world’s greatest poet and told him she would like to meet him.” The result was a love affair that yielded a daughter and also helped “Poet Grandma” find her own writer’s voice.

There are only tiny pictures – actually one picture at the end of each brief chapter of Baby Grandma. But the book reads like the ultimate picture book for both adults and children, a tale of a unique life and of learning about life. And it is a fitting analog to the treasure-trove of poetry by this woman who found her voice and used it.Baby Grandma by FrancEyE, 48 pages, $14.00 published by Conflux Press, Box 12218, Prescott AZ,86304, confluxpress.com.

Related Posts

Film Review: Top Gun Maverick

June 3, 2022

June 3, 2022

FILM REVIEWTOP GUN: MAVERICKRated PG-13137 MinutesReleased May 27th I love films where the cast actually lives through the story in...

Film Review: The Northman

May 12, 2022

May 12, 2022

FILM REVIEWTHE NORTHMANRated R137 MinutesReleased April 22nd If the Vikings of 800-1000 AD had the technology, The Northman is the...

Murray Mednick’s “Three Tables”- Existentialism Meets Theatre of the Absurd

May 12, 2022

May 12, 2022

Murray Mednick’s THREE TABLES is the newest work from the famous poet/playwright who spearheaded New York’s off-off-Broadway movement in the...

Film Review: “The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent”

April 27, 2022

April 27, 2022

FILM REVIEWTHE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENTRated R107 MinutesReleased April 22nd Watching The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, I got...

Santa Monica Auctions Showcasing World Class Fine Art at Bergamot Station Auction event.

April 22, 2022

April 22, 2022

Santa Monica Auctions is hosting its bi-annual live outdoor art auction on May 15th at Bergamot Station Arts Center. See...

Help Recruiting for Good Give Back and Join the Fun at the Sweetest Earth Day Parties Ever

April 20, 2022

April 20, 2022

By Susan Payne  Earth Day is around the corner.  For Carlos Cymerman, founder of Recruiting for Good, that means the...

Santa Monica Bead & Design Show Returns to the Fairmont Miramar!

April 13, 2022

April 13, 2022

The Santa Monica Bead & Design Show will showcase a fine selection of handcraft and artisan supplies at the Fairmont...

Santa Monica to Host Venice Family Clinic’s Art Walk & Auction Gallery

April 1, 2022

April 1, 2022

43rd annual Venice Family Clinic Art Walk & Auction re-emerges with an art gallery and NFT auction April 15 –...

Honoring Women’s History Month With ‘Yarn Bomb’ Art Exhibit at Village Green

March 23, 2022

March 23, 2022

Local Palisadian Michelle Villemaire creates the sixth annual ‘Yarn Bomb’ exhibit at Village Green Park. See the exhibit in this...

Local Artists Honored at Legendary Women of Venice Awards

March 22, 2022

March 22, 2022

Venice Art Crawl hosts the 3rd annual Legendary Women of Venice Awards, find out who was honored in this video...

Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s Stairway of the Stars Returns for in-Person Concert

March 16, 2022

March 16, 2022

March 19 concert will feature nearly 900 elementary, middle, and high school students By Sam Catanzaro For the first time...