The daycare that both my girls have attended / are attending used to reside in the classroom wing of a neighborhood church. Each room had large window openings, and the toddler and younger preschool rooms looked out over the parking lot. Each morning we’d pull into the small lot, get out of the car and wave ‘hello’ to all the two- to four-year-old’s in the window. I’d drop my own little one off for the day, watching her climb onto the narrow ledge of the heater, face pressed to the glass, waiting. E was my patient, focused one – shy at the start of each day, eyes never leaving my car until I arrived again beside it, waving up to her and blowing kisses. F was my spirited tempest – easily distracted by the world of children behind her, leaving me to stand rooted in my spot for several minutes, trying to get her attention, waving ‘goodbye’ to the back of her head.
Norton Juster’s The Hello, Goodbye Window is the story of a very similar window – this one is located at Nana and Poppy’s house. This special window makes transitions from home to grandparents’ easier, but that square of glass is so much more than just a place to wave a greeting. It looks into the large kitchen, where most of the family’s activities are centered, and it looks out onto the garden, where outdoor adventures and play await. The glass is transformed by darkness, lights within reflect the joy and tenderness and ritual at the center of this relationship between grandchild and devoted grandparents.
Chris Raschka is one of my very favorite illustrators – and The Hello, Goodbye Window is one of his best.
The colors are bright, and the rambling house is drawn with just a few bold strokes. Her hands are on the gate, the visit is about to begin. We study the colors and find that red rain barrel, the garden spade, and even Nana and Poppy themselves, waiting.
My favorite drawing might be the section drawing through the window – narrator propped on that perfectly placed can, and two people waiting just for her.
I was lucky enough to grow up with two sets of grandparents who were always waiting, just for me – and now my girls are lucky to have the same. When I read this book I think about that good fortune – I understand the appeal and the treasure of those special rituals shared between grandparents and grandchildren. Juster’s story makes us laugh out loud – at the fanciful creatures “seen” outside the window, and especially the page where the narrator takes a short afternoon nap “and nothing happens until I get up”. Even F gets the joke – although she’s convinced of the same whenever her naptime rolls around.
This book is perfect for 4-8 year olds, and a smashing gift for a grandparent’s or grandkid’s bookshelf.
Find these titles at your favorite local independent bookstore. Happy reading!