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A Trip with Grandma

by Ruth Ohi

Ruth Ohi’s latest picture book, her third to feature guinea pig characters, is a charming story about a young child’s first overnight trip without his parents. Though little Sprout likes seeing new places and loves his grandma, the prospect of an overnight excursion to Bumper’s Valley with just Grandma and his big sister makes him uncomfortable. Not even Sprout’s trusty stuffed animal companion Flatmouse can take the place of Mom and Dad.

In the end, of course, Sprout has a great time on his trip. This is due in no small part to his hip and capable Grandma, who understands that stopping for double chocolate ice cream and going out to a restaurant with dancing chickens are just as important as seeing the world’s tallest trees at Bumper’s Forest.

Ohi tells Sprout’s tale in the same format she used to recount how big sister Clara dealt with an overbearing friend in Clara and the Bossy. We are not told again and again that Sprout is nervous, but we see it — in his quick agreement with Grandma’s suggestions to phone home on a regular basis, and in his inability to sleep at the hotel, for example. Ohi keeps the story lighthearted in tone, however, with cheerful watercolour illustrations of her anthropomorphic characters and the occasional speech balloon that gives extra details (such as Flatmouse’s ambition to be a construction worker train conductor airplane pilot when he grows up).

While the story may be employed as bibliotherapy for youngsters soon to face their own first time away from Mom and Dad, it is also a great read-aloud book for any occasion.