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Behind the Book: A Conversation with Patricia Aldana about Grandparents by Chema Heras

Patricia Aldana’s imprint with Greystone Kids—Aldana Libros—brings books from around the world to English-speakers everywhere.

Grandparents is translated from the Spanish edition, Abuelos (Spanish for “grandparents”). How did you first come across the Spanish edition? 

I was in El Salvador visiting Jorge Argueta’s wonderful Saturday morning library at the San Jacinto market. The children of market workers and shoppers come to a space where books, puzzles and crayons are laid out for them. Grown ups, older kids, and even some retired market cleaners read to them and many now rush to the books and read to themselves. There was one special girl who rushed in and tried to corral as many books as she could. She told me she was the best reader of all. When I suggested she share, she cast hostile looks at others among the bigger girls. When I asked her what was her favourite book—she showed me Abuelos—now Grandparents. Then she read it to me. As the morning ended, she made a drawing of its cover so I wouldn’t forget it.

 

Why do you think the little girl loved the story so much? Did she tell you? 

No, she just said she loved it. It reminded me of being in an IBBY library in Gaza where I asked the kids, who—needless to say—have a very hard life, what their favourite book was. In their case it was Cinderella. I think kids who are surrounded by violence and suffering often love best those books which show love, hope, and other ways of being.  

"When I asked her what was her favourite book—she showed me Abuelos—now Grandparents. Then she read it to me. As the morning ended, she made a drawing of its cover so I wouldn’t forget it." Patsy Aldana

Why do you think Grandparents is an important story to share with English-speakers?  

Well, we do live in a very age-segregated world. At least in El Salvador, old and young intermingle. This book shows that Grandparents are fully human beings who can flirt; learn to accept their many physical flaws; (I know because as a grandmother myself have lots of them.) feel love and have tons of fun.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I’m so looking forward to reading this book to my grandchildren!

 

*Photos, courtesy of Patsy Aldana, show Jorge Argueta’s Saturday morning library at the San Jacinto market in El Salvador.


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