By Samantha SLAYBACK
It is generally known that Mother’s Day comes in May and Father’s Day in June, but what people might not have known is that there is a special day for grandparents celebrated in September.
National Grandparent’s Day falls on Sept. 7 each year, and Flintridge Bookstore and Coffeehouse decided to honor this day by sharing a grandparent-inspired children’s story. Written by Beth Navarro and illustrated by Betsy Hamilton, “GRAMBO” is the story of a boy named Ryan who discovers that his seemingly ordinary grandmother is actually a spy! Navarro made an appearance at the bookstore on Sunday afternoon to present her book to local children.
Organized by Flintridge Bookstore Children’s Book Specialist and fellow author Catherine Linka, the event took place both inside the bookstore and out. Navarro started off by greeting the children then reading aloud from her book. Then the kids were invited to do all sorts of fun, spy-related activities. They could dress up in fake mustaches and disguises, have their picture taken with a blow-up of Grambo’s character, and take the official GRAMBO pledge, an oath to become an honorary secret agent on Grambo’s team.
“[She also] invited them to create ID tags on our porch when she brought delicious homemade chocolate chip cookies,” added coordinator Linka. “Beth created a fantastic event.”
Author Navarro found children’s books to be her calling when she started working in a bookstore 15 years ago and got “stuck” running the children’s section.
“That ended up being one of the best things that ever happened to me,” Navarro said. “Writing for kids is an important job, I think. Stories are important – kids find refuge in them.”
Her inspiration for this specific story came from none other than her own grandmother. One year for Christmas, Navarro decided to write each of her family members a story.
“For no particular reason that I knew, Grambo was Grandma Jean’s nickname,” Navarro said.
After that Christmas, Navarro put her short stories away in a drawer. She ended up bringing “GRAMBO” back out once she started to get serious about her writing career, and teamed up with Be There Bedtime Stories to get it published.
“I would love it if kids walked away thinking what Ryan thinks at the end of the story: Grandmas can do anything!” Navarro said. “They have a Grambo of their own, even if their grandma may not be a secret agent like Ryan’s.”
Despite a few butterflies in her stomach beforehand, Navarro said that book events are her “happy place.” A supporter of the Flintridge Bookstore and Coffeehouse, and someone who said she deeply respects Catherine Linka, Navarro didn’t hesitate to accept the offer to share her book.
“I was honored to have an event there,” she said. “It was such a fun Grandparent’s Day celebration.”