MONTVILLE, NJ – When Linda Charles Fishman wanted to read to her granddaughters, Reese Fishman and Hayley Edelstein, she was dismayed that the grandmothers in the books always looked old and gray.
As a college professor who teaches writing, she decided to take matters into her own hands and write books about herself and her granddaughters. The result is the book series “Grandma’s Girls.”
“Reese, who’s three days younger than Hayley, was first,” Fishman told TAPinto Montville. “I saw myself in her love of books. Reese would say to me, ‘Grandma tell me a story!’ and that became the first book.”
Fishman called it “The Little Girl Who Loves Books.” Reese is the lead character in the book, with Fishman appearing too. Fishman self-published the books, and worked with illustrator Susan Shorter for the four-book series.
“I would send her pictures of what my granddaughters and I look like, and I look so young in these books!” she said. “I even incorporated things like the details of their rooms into the illustrations. Reese, whom I called ‘Reesie’ in the book, was two-and-a-half years old when her book came out. Now she’s nine and she asks me, ‘Why did you call me Reesie in the book?’”
Hayley, who lives in Montville, is the star of the second book, entitled “The Little Girl Who Loves Make Believe.”
“Hayley likes so many things like singing and acting,” Fishman said. “I had to encompass that into the theme of the book.”
Fishman said she asked the illustrator to add a butterfly into each page’s drawing, so that families could read the book aloud and search for the butterfly on each page. Every book ends with the same signature page: “Do you know a little boy or girl who loves [the item from the title]. I bet you do; it could be you!”
Two years brought two more granddaughters, and two more titles. “The Little Girl Who Loves Music” was the third title. Granddaughter Stella Edelstein, who is seven now, is the star of that book.
“I tried to make the third book for Stella but also ‘universal,’” she said. “The illustrations are beautiful. I pulled things from what they do to put in to the books. For example, at my daughter’s house they put on music after dinner and everybody dances so I put that in. We played pirate ship one time so I put that in.”
Reese’s sister Cooper stars in the fourth title, “The Little Girl Who Loves Colors.”
“It asks questions, like ‘what’s yellow?’, so families can read the books together and they can point out the items,” Fishman said. “Each granddaughter also appears in the next book, so Reese is in Hayley’s book, and the fourth book has all four girls in it.”
The girls love the books and “being stars,” she said. William Mason Elementary School, where Hayley and Stella are students, has all four books in its library. Fishman said her daughter and daughter-in-law tell her that all four girls like to check the books out of their school libraries even though they have the books at home and she has them in her car. She said one librarian even told her the books are sometimes on reserve, meaning, there’s a wait list to check them out.
“I enjoy when I hear the kids have taken out the books, and like them and enjoy them,” she said. “I had a lot of fun writing them. My mom is 96 and she was a college professor - one of the first fulltime professors at Fairleigh Dickinson. I followed in her footsteps, and the first book is dedicated to her. When you ask one of my granddaughters what she wants to be when she grows up, she says, ‘I want to be an author and a college professor!’”
Fishman said people tell her they read them with their grandchildren and love them. She said she donates them to libraries, such as Wayne, where she lives, plus she gives them as shower presents.
“My friends tell me their grandchildren want them to write a book starring them. They tease me, and say, ‘thanks a lot,’ sarcastically,” she said with a laugh.
Teasing aside, Fishman said she hopes the books encourage kids to read and write, including her grandchildren.
“Both Hayley and Reese like to write, and Hayley even illustrates her stories herself,” she said. “If I’ve helped that, I’m proud.”
What’s next from this author?
“I have a grandson now, who’s a little more than two years old,” she said. “I will be writing a book about him when I have the inspiration from him. He’s still little.”