A story to read aloud to kids…
Whenever Max visited Little Granny, she would wrap him up in a big cosy hug and all his worries would disappear.
Little Granny lived in a rickety old cottage on the top of a grassy hill. Her face was as wrinkled as an elephant’s and her eyes were as blue and as sparkly as the sea. When Little Granny smiled, she could warm the whole house on a winter’s night and when Max gazed into those eyes, his reflection was tall and strong and brave.
Everyday, Little Granny would sit on the porch in her rocking chair and knit. Back and forth she’d rock, her fingers gripping the knitting needles and her silver hair coiled around her head. She’d hum a little tune as she rocked and Max would sit on the steps and watch the wool twisting and turning and changing shape.
One day, Little Granny began knitting a scarf. Up and down went the knitting needles, round and round went the wool, twisting through Little Granny’s knobbly hands.
“What are you knitting Granny?” asked Max.
“I’m knitting a scarf,” replied Little Granny. “It will be a rainbow scarf to remind you of me, and it will keep you warm, like a big cosy hug.”
The first colour was red.
“Red is for the roses which grow in my front garden,” said Little Granny, and the scarf began to take shape.
Next, Little Granny took a ball of orange wool and wound it carefully around the knitting needles.
“Orange is for the warmth of the fire in the den,” she said.
Now Little Granny reached into her basket and pulled out a ball of soft yellow wool.
“Yellow is for the scent of golden scones rising in the oven,” she whispered.
And the scarf grew longer.
Max wriggled closer to Little Granny and watched as she carefully attached a long thread of bright green wool to the knitting needles.
“Green is for the juicy sweetness of the apples which grow on the tree at the bottom of the garden,” she said.
“And now blue,” exclaimed Max. “Blue is my favourite colour. What is blue for Granny?”
“Blue is for the sky of course,” said Little Granny, “bright and shiny on a summer’s day. Blue is to remind you to keep trying to fly, and one day you just might find that you do.”
The ball of blue wool grew smaller and the scarf stretched halfway across the porch.
The final colour was violet.
“Violet is for the last rays of the evening sky,” whispered Little Granny. “Remember that even when I am no longer here, I will always be with you.”
And the scarf was finished.
Little Granny gently wrapped the rainbow scarf around Max’s shoulders and kissed his cheek. Max waved goodbye and set off happily down the hill. He could see the red roses growing in the garden, and he could feel the warmth of the fire crackling in the den. He could smell the scent of freshly baked scones and taste the sweet, juicy flavour of apples. He could see the sky stretching endlessly in front of him and he flapped his arms as he ran down the grassy slope.
He could still hear the knitting needles moving through Little Granny’s knobbly hands.
Clickety click, clickety click.
He felt tall and strong and brave.
And the rainbow scarf was a big cosy hug.
By Liz Lofthouse
From Liz… “My children had three grannies. The oldest and smallest we called Little Granny. She was a typical old-fashioned granny, with silver hair coiled around her head, and the wrinkliest face you have ever seen.
I used memories of Little Granny as the inspiration for this story. My intent was to use rich imagery and symbolism to emphasise the enduring quality of love between grandmother and grandchild and to demonstrate that life, though finite in an earthly sense, is sustained through emotional connection and memory.”
Liz Lofthouse wrote these notes, which are reproduced in part, to accompany the text Max and the Rainbow Scarf as it went the rounds of publishers.
As a primary teacher with 25+ years experience and holding a burning desire to give of herself to others, Liz applied her skills to create rich, colourful and evocative texts.
Liz passed away in May 2018, leaving behind a devastated family and a rich collection of writings*.
–Tim Lofthouse, July 2018
Illustrations by Laura Munteanu
Laura has been illustrating for Family Matters Switzerland since 2013. Besides her talent for drawing, she also creates contemporary artworks and jewellery. Laura studied journalism and advertising, and has worked as a journalist and an illustrator. She has illustrated for magazines, websites, charities and diverse campaigns. Laura lives in Zurich with her husband and 10-year-old daughter.
*Ziba Came on a Boat is a popular picture book written by Liz Lofthouse, published by Picture Puffin. “Based on real events, this is the moving story of a little refugee girl’s brave journey across the sea to make a new life, far from home.”