'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
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Friday 20 June 2014

Review: Garlic, Hankies and Hugs

Michelle loves visiting her Nanna, but there is just one thing about the visits that she doesn’t understand – why does Nanna insist on ‘spitting’ on her cheek?

When Michelle asks for an explanation, Nanna says that it is part of a special tradition to help keep away ‘evil spirits’ that might cause harm or problems for her family. By saying skortha (the Greek word for garlic) and fake-spitting on someone three times, Nanna is sharing a special blessing that will protect that person.

This simple story of a young girl visiting her grandmother shares the meaning behind this unusual Greek custom. There is a lovely sense of family and appreciation of the value of the different generations in this story, as Michelle and her grandmother talk.

The rhyming story is followed by some background information on the skortha blessing as well as a brief bio of Michelle’s grandmother. Laura Wood’s illustrations complement the text well.

Garlic, Hankies and Hugs is a lovely reminder of the importance of acknowledging and recording the traditions that make up our cultural heritage. I love that the story features young Michelle, who isn’t all that fond of the skortha blessing, but finishes with grown-up Michelle who is still submitting to her grandmother’s occasional attempts to ward off the evil eye.

Title: Garlic, Hankies and Hugs
Author: Michelle C. Monaghan
Illustrator: Laura Wood
Publisher: JoJo Publishing, $16.99 RRP
Publication Date: April 2014
Format: Soft cover
ISBN: 9780987588067
For ages: 3-7
Type: Picture Book