"Baba's Red Talking Chair" by Eric Sigurdson (E. Paley)
The lasting sense of someone who really matters and who has made a difference early on in a child's life can be kept for decades, even a lifetime.
—Eric Sigurdson, author
If chairs could talk what would they say? They often outlive the owner and bear witness to many conversations.
Baba's Red Talking Chair tells the story of a young boy who finds out what really matters in life through his relationship with his prairie grandmother.
The author, Eric Sigurdson, is Icelandic and was a family physician in Dauphin, Manitoba where he witnessed Polish and Ukrainian traditions through family celebrations.
He explains that "in the story, Nick forms this very important relationship with his grandmother that stays with him and he accesses it through his memory of her and his image of her favourite red talking chair that she liked to sit on when they talked on the veranda."
He wrote the book after seeing firsthand how parents and children struggle to find balance with videogames, television and social media. He noticed that relationships between grandchildren and their grandparents were being compromised in light of all these distractions.
"The relationship with a grandparent is so important to their development," says Sigurdson. He also maintains that books are the best way for young children to learn. "What better way for that relationship to be enriched by having the child on the lap of the grandparent where that interaction is both the page and the thoughts that are read - but also the physical closeness."
Sigurdson is also convinced that there are important aspects of these relationships that can carry a child into adulthood. "The lasting sense of someone who really matters and who has made a difference early on in a child's life can be kept for decades, even a lifetime."
Sigurdson has his own childhood memories of his grandmother that he draws from. "...summer at Sargent Park Pool...and then walking across to Minto Street and the smell of doughnuts cooking - along with a glass of cold milk."
With illustrations by award-winning artist Luther Pokrant, Baba's Red Talking Chair will launch on Wednesday January 23 at 7 p.m.at McNally Robinson.