To "activate" displaying of an arrow, use its property "Visible"
book trailer

What the book is about

When his much-loved Grandma passes away, Shashi is both grieved and puzzled. Amma takes him aside to reveal something amazing - that Grandma was now on her way to become a star!

Was Amma for real?
How would Grandma ever manage to reach the sky?
How long would it take her and what would she do once she got there?

Join Grandma as she sets out on an amazing adventure to reach the sky, even as Shashi waits by his window each night to catch a glimpse of her amongst the millions of stars.

Meet the Characters

children's stories
SHASHI: He is a sensitive 6-year-old who visits grandma’s house, only to find that she was 'gone’.
GRANDMA: She is gutsy but loving old lady, who is in a hurry to reach the sky and become a star next to grandpa after her death.
grandma stories
children's books
THE MONKEY, CLOUD AND MOON: They meet grandma one by one on her way to the realm of the stars. They are concerned about grandma and try to make her comfortable as she takes a few breaks from her climbing.
Read an Excerpt

HOW IT ALL BEGAN (excerpt from chapter 1)
Shashi awoke one morning to see tears rolling down Amma’s cheeks. Appa stood glumly by the window, the phone in his hand. Didi was crying too, but it was not her usual loud and annoying weeping. Shashi could barely hear her as she sniffled into her handkerchief.  

Shashi jumped out of bed and ran to Amma. He put both his arms around her. He could feel her body shaking and a lump formed in his own throat. He turned his worried face towards his father.  

“What has happened, Appa? Why is Didi whimpering? And why is Amma crying? Did you scold them, Appa?” Shashi asked, tugging protectively at Amma’s sari.  

But before Appa could reply, Amma quickly helped Shashi change his clothes and walked out of the room. Didi ran out behind Amma, her wet hanky still clutched tightly in one hand. Appa ruffled Shashi’s hair before heading downstairs himself.

Shashi knew something was wrong. But what could it be? He dashed behind Appa, hoping to get some answers. However, all he got was silence, as they got into the car and drove off.

Amma hugged Shashi so tightly all the way to Grandma’s house, that he could hardly breathe, let alone ask any more questions to satisfy his curiosity. ‘What on earth was happening?’ he wondered to himself. 

IS THIS HEAVEN? (excerpt from chapter 4)

“Hello…anybody there?” Grandma’s lilting voice echoed as she stepped onto the silvery moon. 

“Hey Grandma!” The moon’s happy voice greeted her. “How are you doing? You’ve come a long way and look rather tired…..would you care to rest for a while?” The moon could not contain his excitement at having a visitor. “Just push aside the curtains and walk right in,” he added hastily as Grandma started looking around, wondering where she was supposed to go.  

Now, who would have thought that the patches on the moon were in fact delicate lace curtains that hid the most resplendent royal chamber? 

“Mind you Grandma, these curtains have been woven by the best master spiders, using the finest silver threads,” said the moon, beaming with pride. “I have a taste for fine things and I do love sharing them with all my visitors.”
Grandma smiled as she admired the delicate patterns on the curtains. Being skilled at crochet herself, she could appreciate the beautiful designs woven into the drapes. She remembered the pink shrug she had crocheted for her daughter’s birthday. And the white centrepiece for the dining table at home.

Grandma let herself drift into memories of the past as she slowly headed towards the inner chamber. But right at the entrance of the chamber was a sight that made Grandma’s tummy rumble and brought her back to the here and now. It was a silver buffet table laid with a spread of dishes from many cuisines, all served in bright, glistening silverware.

Just then, the moon popped in to say, “Err . . . Grandma, there is something of everything for you here, since I did not know your favourite food – Indian, Chinese, Mediterranean, Italian, English, Japanese, Thai, American, Lebanese . . . you name it and you will find it right here.”

Reviews by Readers & Professional Reviewers

Review by children's author Ella May

The detail of the cookies he hid in his grandmother's sari was very touching. It's not part of my culture to do that, but this story made me wish I had done something similar!  

What a beautiful, soothing story of life after death! I was worried I wouldn't like it at the very beginning because no one was explaining to Shashi what had happened. No matter how difficult the topic, I think it's unfair to leave a child out in the cold like that. Once Shashi is told the story of his grandmother becoming a star, I enjoyed it the rest of the way through.

I loved that the grandmother character was a strong, smart woman, as well as a much-loved grandma. I also loved the interplay with her husband. I had never heard this story/ legend before, and I'm happy to share it with my children to start a conversation about the grandfather they have already lost, as well as what might happen when we inevitably lose other family members. The magic ladder idea is attractive to kids. It gives them something to focus on and wonder about, even in the midst of grief, I imagine. "Do you think Grandma is climbing the ladder now?" "What do you think she said to the moon?" "Shall we look for he
r in the sky?" I wish there were more books like this which combine an interesting aspect of culture with a big issue like the loss of a loved one.

Review by Bonnie Ferrante on Goodreads

There were two points in the story that brought tears to my eyes. One was when the little boy was told that his grandmother would have to journey for three days on the magic ladder. The second moment was when the grandmother was reunited with the grandfather.

This is a rather different story about what happens after death. When Shashi's (a little boy) grandmother dies, we follow her journey up the magic ladder into the sky to become a star with your previously deceased husband. Although the story begins with tears and grieving, once we switch to the Grandma's point of view it is sweet, peaceful and reassuring. 

Grandma is an amazing woman, kind, courageous, appreciative, and positive, so much so that as she journeys all who encounter want her to stay. But even though the journey as long and somewhat arduous she continues to climb the ladder for three days to reach her husband and become a star. The reader cheers Grandmother on as she travels believing in her success and anxious to see Grandma's dream to become a star of reality.

If you have definite beliefs as to what happens after death, this would still be a good book to share with your child to explain that different religions and cultures have different beliefs. If you are unsure or uncommitted as to what happens after death, this book will encourage some interesting discussions. Suitable to be read with parents for children ages 4 to 10.

Review by Carrie Mortleman on Goodreads

I love the Indian references and words and seeping culture that drips through the book. 

The author deals beautifully and sensitively with a very difficult subject (death) and older children would especially appreciate the story. I'd like to see more textured painted dreamscape images to match the very beautiful journey of words.

Review by Maggie Larche on Amazon

The story is straightforward enough for a child to follow along, but it really weaves an elegant tale out of its simple components. 

This is a lovely folktale about a grandmother climbing a ladder to the stars after her death. She makes some friends -- a monkey, a cloud, the moon -- on her journey to reunite with her departed husband. Her story is bookended with her grandson Shashi's story and how he and his family deal with their grief over her passing. 
This book also has beautiful, vivid illustrations to go with the text. I read the ebook version, but I'd really recommend getting a a print edition if there is one. I think the pictures would be gorgeous on paper.

Review by Lana Axe on Goodreads

If at all possible, it would be best to read this story to a child a few times before they have experienced that loss. That way, Mom and Dad can simply say, Grandma has now climbed that ladder. Remember all the beautiful things she saw along the way? Let's look for her star in the sky. 

This is a beautifully written story for children, aimed at helping them cope with the loss of a grandparent. It is best read aloud to younger children, but children over age 7 should have no trouble reading it by themselves. Though I think it's a fantastic story for a parent and child to share together. 
I especially appreciated the parts describing Grandma's journey. Rather than only focusing on the happenings in Shashi's life, it switches views to allow a child to witness what Grandma is experiencing. That is a wonderful way to show a child that death can be a beautiful experience, and to help them understand what has happened. Shashi never seemed sad that his Grandma had gone. Instead, he is left with beautiful memories of her. And that's how it should be for every child. All he needs to do when he misses her is look up at the stars, and she will be there next to Grandpa. I think that's a beautiful message for young children, and one that will bring them great comfort.

Review by children's author Graham Garrity

The author, Priya Narayanan, has taken a difficult and emotional subject and crafted a book that is both heart-warming and charming.  

Although this story mentions Hindu rituals I feel that it has a universal appeal and children and adults of whatever religion will be able to relate to this story. As I read it I pictured my own grandmother, who died many years ago when I was a child, climbing the ladder to the stars. And I am sure that any child who has lost a grandparent will readily picture their own loved one ascending to the heavens. This is a book that can easily be read at one sitting. The cover and the pages are beautifully illustrated and these illustrations, besides being visually appealing, provide talking points that can be discussed between parent and child.

Review by Melissa Gill on Amazon  
This story has a magical folktale like quality that is destined to be passed on to provide comfort in times of trouble. 

I really enjoyed this unique and beautiful story. It's difficult to explain death to young children, especially when you are grieving. A picture book is an excellent tool. Some parents may object to the idea of choosing to become a star rather than go to heaven. This may not mesh with the Christian beliefs of some. However, this may be the perfect book for someone attempting to explain death in a more secular manner, or for people from other faiths. Overall this was a great story with a lot to offer families experiencing grief. 

Review by Janelle McGuiness on Goodreads

Indian culture is mentioned throughout the book but the messages transcend any language.

This book deals with the subject of death through the eyes of a little boy and the journey his grandma takes to get to the afterlife. It has a beautiful and magical sentiment throughout. Indian culture is mentioned throughout the book but the messages transcend any language. It is quite a long book so the age group is more for older children - 7-10 maybe? 

Review by Heather on Amazon

When Grandma Climbed the Magic Ladder is a sweet book that explains the transition between life and death in a very magical way.

The book provides a wealth of cultural information and is clearly designed to show this transition as not just a time to be sad, but also as a time to rejoice in all the love a family provides and provided. The topic and words may be a little much for young readers, but this is a great book that a parent can use to help explain the passing of a loved one.

Review by author John Dorey on Goodreads  

You can feel the love that was put into the writing itself and it just makes the story even better. 

This book is a very well written, interesting take on a tough subject, the passing of loved ones. Sometimes trying to explain what this means to little ones is not easy but this book has a theory that's both simple yet pleasing. The artwork is well done and the story flows well from beginning to end. I enjoyed reading and even learned a little about a culture I'm not familiar with.

Review by Tabitha Peterson on Goodreads
An exquisitely illustrated, decorated and finely polished children's picture book! With strong themes from India, anyone, anywhere will enjoy it. I loved the intricate artwork, the multitude of animals across each page, and the journey the book takes the reader on. A splendid little book!

Review by Mr. Vijay on Amazon  
The book touches memories that we carry in ourselves of our dear ones always, even when we cannot see them anymore. Very nice book to logically explain the departing of a family member to a child, flows very smoothly, brings joy and smiles as we read along.

Buy the Book

'When Grandma Climbed the Magic Ladder' is currently available as an e-book. I'll make sure you'll be the first to know when the paperback is released though :)
Click on the e-tailer of your choice to buy/ gift a copy or to leave your valuable reviews