Polish American Journal Review of 2nd Busia Story

reviewed by Mary Lanham

September 2020

Busia: School Days on the Farm with my Polish Grandmother

By Leonard Kniffel

PolishSon.com, 2019, 49 pgs.

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Busia: Seasons on the Farm with my Polish Grandmother by Leonard Kniffel. In the slim memoir Kniffel recounts a life growing up on his grandmother’s farm in rural Michigan in the 1950s. There was no television and no telephone. Instead, he and his grandmother spent their days gardening and running the house. The next chapter in his life is described in Busia: School Days on the Farm with my Polish Grandmother, Kniffel’s companion memoir. This continuation in his story is just as well-written as his previous volume. School Days takes place when Leonard — or Lenuś, as his Busia called him — just turns seven and ends when he is ten.

Below is a delightful excerpt of when the future librarian finds out about public libraries.

“Along with reading, I discover the library because we children are marched down to the public library and up the grand steps to the main door, which I had never seen even though I spent a year of kindergarten in the basement. We ascend the stairs as if to a palace and are guided to the children’s area. I discover that every book has a pocket with a date card in it. Books that you can borrow, what a great idea! Another great idea pops into my head. We have some books upstairs—Uncle Hank’s college books about agriculture, something by someone named Ivan Turgenev, some Golden Books.”

School Days beautifully covers that rare age in youth where one is still a child, but old enough to start appreciating your elders. That time where you not only go through the motions of traditions, but start understanding them, and how they connect you to generations past. And ever present in the text is the mutual love between grandmother and grandson. If there is a single drawback to the book, it is that the pages stop when there is still so much more of the story I want to read. Hopefully there will be a third volume in the arc of Busia. Kniffel vividly paints a picture of his childhood that is suitable for both younger and older readers alike.

Busia: School Days on the Farm with my Polish Grandmother is highly recommended. It is available for purchase from the Polish American Journal, and the gift shop of the Polish Museum of America.

Leonard Kniffel, a librarian, was the editor and publisher of the magazine of the American Library Association, American Libraries. He has also written A Polish Son in the Motherland: An American’s Journey and Musicals on the Silver Screen: A Guide to the Must-See Movie Musicals, and Reading with the Stars: A Celebration of Books and Libraries. Kniffel is the president of the Polish American Librarians Association and a member of the board of directors of the Polish Museum of America in Chicago.

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