When Granpda Kissed His Elbow


by Cynthia C. DeFelice
pictures by Karl Swanson
© 1992

The Story

Grandpa introduces Maggie to the magic of the natural world during her visit to the country, during which she witnesses hailstones in the summer, dancing mayflies, and a wren’s nest lined with her own hair.

A Note from the Author

Both of my grandfathers died before I was born, and I used to wonder what it would have been like to know them. In this book, I got the chance to create the grandfather I wished I’d had.

I heard an old superstition that said if a person kissed his elbow he would change from a boy into a girl, or a girl into a boy! Of course, I tried it. I didn’t want to change into a boy, but I figured if it worked, I could kiss my elbow again and change back. Well, I couldn’t quite reach it…bet you can’t, either! However, it gave me the idea of a story that begins with a girl named Maggie visiting her grandfather for the summer. Grampa is always telling stories, and they all begin like this: “Back when I was a little girl….” He says that he used to be a girl, until he kissed his elbow and turned into a boy.

When Maggie can’t kiss her own elbow, she decides that all the magic is gone from the world, that magic only happened back when her grandfather was a little girl. But when she spends time with Grampa, she learns that the world is still full of magic, if you know how to find it.

Reviews

“A gifted storyteller presents a familiar theme–a happy relationship between grandparent and child–with unusual insight and sensitivity. Swanson’s misty color-pencil illustrations nicely reflect the story’s quiet mood and Maggie’s sense of wonder at the “magical” occurrences she and Grandpa share.” - Kirkus Reviews

“A nostalgic story, gently told and softly illustrated.” - Horn Book

Sorry, this book is out of print.