June 25, 2021 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

Conscious Designs That Drive The Message Home

June 16, 2021

June 16, 2021

“Black Lives Matter” – The rallying cry that went from a hashtag to a global movement, and a designer that...

In-Person Events Are Back with Summer Swing Nights: Jazzy Vocals plus Live Big Band – Now with Tap Dance, Swing Lessons, Vendors to Benefit Museum

June 10, 2021

June 10, 2021

Live, in-person entertainment is bringing out happy fans of all ages for Summer Swing Nights: Drive-In Edition. The concert fundraiser features the...

Ben & Jerry’s Closes Santa Monica Shop

May 13, 2021

May 13, 2021

First West Coast Ben & Jerry’s closes up shop on Main Street  By Kerry Slater Ben & Jerry’s has closed...

Edify TV: A Look Into the Cold War-Era as Wende Museum Reopens

May 11, 2021

May 11, 2021

With relics of the Cold War-era on display, the Wende Museum in Culver City has reopened for in-person visits. Learn...

How to Heal the Soil and Why

May 11, 2021

May 11, 2021

By Andy Lopez We all know how important the vital role the soil plays in your plants’ health, trees, and...

Edify TV: Concert Capacity Rules Issue for Small Venues

May 4, 2021

May 4, 2021

Live music is back in LA County but the owner of a Westside jazz club says reopening will have to...

Santa Monica College Student Film to be Screened at Cannes

April 27, 2021

April 27, 2021

SMC student film “Broken Layers” accepted into The American Pavilion at Cannes By Sam Catanzaro Santa Monica College (SMC) student...

Venice Japanese American Memorial Monument Committee’s Annual Commemoration

April 6, 2021

April 6, 2021

Annual event to be held virtually Thursday April 15 Submitted by the Venice Japanese American Memorial Monument Committee Standing at...

Film Review: Minari

March 31, 2021

March 31, 2021

MINARIRated PG-13115 MinutesReleased February 26th Amazon Prime, Google Play, DirecTV/ Virtual screening on A24films.comWon Golden Globe – Best Picture Foreign...

Video: Indoor Dining Close to Returning in LA County?

March 4, 2021

March 4, 2021

Indoor dining could return to LA County very soon. Learn more and hear what diners have to say in this...

The Importance of Upgrades

February 23, 2021

February 23, 2021

Whether you’re talking about upgrading your home, business, or computer systems, the results are the same: upgrades are essential maintenance...

Film Review: Bliss

February 14, 2021

February 14, 2021

FILM REVIEWBLISSRated R103 MinutesReleased February 5th on Amazon Prime Do you find that when return home from travels to another...

Art of Recovery Projects Connect the Community and Brighten Santa Monica Streets

February 9, 2021

February 9, 2021

The City of Santa Monica’s Cultural Affairs Division’s next round of Art of Recovery projects will be implemented throughout Santa Monica in the...