GiGi Amateau

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Two for Joy

Eight-year-old Jenna is dreaming of playing Olympic soccer when the phone call wakes her. Great Aunt Tannie has broken her ankle, and Jenna's worried mom decides Tannie should move in with them. Tannie is no delicate old lady—she does heavy chores on her Virginia farm, drives a huge pickup, and even rides her own motorcycle. Plus she’s full of joie de vivre, given to kicking a soccer ball and teaching Jenna all about the birds she’s collected on her life list. Jenna’s excited to have her favorite aunt and cat, Butt, come to stay, but with so many changes to get used to, tempers around the house soon start to flare. Maybe with all the caring and being taken care of, they’ve forgotten what Tannie is still so good at—and neglected to have any fun.

About the book: by Gigi Amateau |illustrated by Abigail Marble | Middle-grade fiction, Ages 7-9, Grade 2 - 4 | Candlewick Press, hardcover June 2015 | 0763630101 / 9780763630102| $14.99

Honors  |  Reviews     

Two for Joy Honors

  • Amazon Best Children’s Book of the Month, June 2015, Ages 6-8


Two for Joy Reviews

A Word Edgewise 07/19/2015

Amateau informs us that ‘over a million children in the U.S. share in care giving as part of their family life. My own daughter was a joyful presence for my grammy.’ It’s this experience that Amateau shares with so many of us that make this book a wonderful read and read-aloud for children as young as five, parents and grandparents of any age. Abigail Marble's illustrations make this short chapter book friendly for readers in third grade and up.

Two for Joy's message: ‘we all need help sometimes’ is a gentle reminder to all to look out for each other and to accept help even when it’s difficult or not how we imagined we’d receive it. Thank you Ms. Amateau for packing so much love into eighty-nine short pages of Two for Joy for a million families of readers and then some. Click here for the full review.

Richmond Times-Dispatch 07/19/2015

Two for Joy,” with its heartfelt illustrations, is a poignant story about the realities of caregiving and the unexpected gifts that come with nurturing and respecting our heroines from previous generations. Read the full review.

3rd Grade Reading 06/11/2015

Centered around little Jenna and her mother, Grace, this lovely little chapter book says a lot about family, aging, and love for animals. Grace gets a call in the middle of the night. Her one remaining aunt, Tannie, has fallen (again) and broken her ankle. As her only living relatives, Jenna and Grace work on a scheme to talk Tannie into leaving her farm in Mississippi and coming to live with them in Virginia. First, they have to make their house ready for an elderly woman in recovery. Second, they have to drive her home and convince her. During the fourteen-hour drive, they play the counting crows game. Third, the three of them need to adjust to each other. Grace tries to take care of everything, leaving Jenna feeling neglected and Tannie feeling useless.

Third graders will learn about the issues of aging and also a little about birds and other animals. The wonderful characters lend themselves to wanting to find the outcome and independent reading.

Booklist 06/01/2015

In this quiet and thoughtful story about what it means to be a family, eight-year-old Jenna and her mother struggle to adjust when Jenna’s beloved great-aunt Britannia, or “Tannie,” breaks her ankle and comes to live with them. Jenna had great fun visiting Tannie on her Mississippi farm, where Tannie tended her garden and chickens and drove a big truck and a motorcycle. But when Tannie arrives at Jenna’s house in Virginia, Jenna’s mother takes over and handles everything for Tannie. Without anything to do, Tannie’s resentful and unhappy, and soon they’re all getting on each other’s nerves. Will Jenna’s mother give up a little control so they can be a fun-loving family again? Children living in multigenerational families will relate to the dynamics, appreciating Jenna and Tannie’s shared love of soccer and bird-watching—they’ll also be charmed by Tannie’s adorable cat, Butt. Marble’s pencil sketches scattered throughout the book, including Jenna’s handwritten list of things to do “After Tannie Comes,” add warmth to the story. — Sharon Rawl

Publishers Weekly 04/17/2015

With eight-year-old Jenna's great-aunt Tannie's health declining, Jenna and her mother decide that it's time that Tannie leave her Mississippi farm and move in with the two of them. But persuading Tannie takes work, as does adjusting to life with an older, ailing relative after Tannie agrees to join them in Virginia. Amateau makes each member of this three-generational family multidimensional; their love for each other is on full display, but the story doesn't sugarcoat the difficulties of caring for a relative whose strong will is sometimes at odds with a frail body. It's a sensitive account of a family coming together, and a solid resource for those facing similar decisions. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 7–9.

Kirkus Review 3/15/2015

When feisty great-aunt Britannia falls and hurts herself for the fourth time in two years, 8-year-old Jenna and her mom, a nurse, invite "Tannie" to come and live with them. But the strong-willed, widowed Tannie, an avid birder who once could fly an airplane and ride a motorcycle, isn't quite ready to give up her Mississippi farm and move in with her beloved relatives in Virginia. Eventually Tannie relents. Although Jenna appreciates having her great-aunt's inspiring spirit nearby, soon Tannie's needs cut into the maternal attentiveness Jenna has come to expect. Learning to accept change and to ask for help become challenges for all of the characters, as transitioning into an intergenerational threesome is presented as an ongoing process. Amateau's experiences with caregiving and her work in the world of aging and disability services inform this mildly generic, timeless story. Refreshing aspects include an adventurous older female character striving to remain vital and the mutually respectful relationship between Jenna and her mother, who is the primary parent after divorce. A deceptively simple, warmhearted tale, particularly apt for chapter-book readers with similar experiences or an interest in multigenerational stories.




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