#478 – An Evening with Grandpa: Adventures in Chess Land by Diana Matlin and S. Chatterjee

an evening with grandpa adventure in chess land.


An Evening With Grandpa: Adventures in Chess Land

by Diana Matlin and S. Chatterjee, illustrator


Age  7 to 9            64 pages


Back Cover

“When little Annie gets sick one night, she has no choice but to stay at home while her family has fun at the theater. It seems that Annie will have to spend a boring evening with Grandpa until he unexpectedly begins to tell her a fairy take about Pawnie, a young girl who lives in a faraway Chess Kingdom. Does the inexperienced Pawnie have what it takes to succeed in this incredible adventure and make her dream of becoming a princess come true?”

**An Evening with Grandpa: Adventures in Chess Land “is also a great read for young boys as it can teach them not to limit their ideas of what a girl’s capabilities are.” ** —  Karen Kelly Boyce, author of Down Right Good


“Little Annie was upset. Not only did her throat hurt and it was painful to swallow, but the doctor had said to stay home for a couple of days, and now she couldn’t go to see the Nutcracker that night.”


Annie had planned to see The Nutcracker and dine at her favorite restaurant but she became ill and could not go with her family. Instead, Annie had to stay home with Grandpa, “who would rather sit on the sofa and read the newspaper than play any game with her.” After the family had left, she asked Grandpa to play a game of Chutes and Ladders—maybe next time—Candyland—next time—and Checkers—he shook his head no. Unexpectedly, Grandpa suggested they play Chess but Annie had no idea how to play the game. To explain the game, Grandpa told Annie a fairy tale.

Two kings, who both wanted more power, ruled the Chess Kingdom. Their queens were determined to help their kings win that power. They all agreed to a set of rules then divided the army into white uniforms and black uniforms. The armies consisted of the pieces on a chessboard (bishops, knights, and rooks, two each; eight young soldiers—pawns—plus the king and queen). The kings were no brave souls, preferring to command his army from inside the castle. The queens had the most power and could do whatever she wished as long as she protected her king. .If the king loses all power if caught by the opposing army.



An Evening with Grandpa tells the story of Pawnie, a young girl who wants to become a princess but is not of royal blood. Pawnie’s story kept Annie interested in a tale grandpa used to teach Annie the basic rules of chess. The white queen was very smart when she replaced all the young male soldiers with young girls. As an incentive to fight hard, any young girl who made it to the castle wall first would become the queen’s princess. (In reality, when a pawn traveling to the last row of the board—the king’s row—it becomes a queen). I like how grandpa explained this somewhat complicated game to such a young girl.

Pawnie making it to the king’s side, becoming a princess—and the hero of the battle for power—makes a great role model for young girls, telling them it is possible to do anything with effort. Of all the eight young female soldiers, only Pawnie stayed up learning how to fight and guard the king. Do not expect to learn the game of chess by reading An Evening with Grandpa. Grandpa does a good job explaining the directions a pawn may move and the actions it may take. The other, more powerful and more important pieces, were not explain enough to be able to move them with any deft.


An Evening with Grandpa will not teach young children the game of chess, but it will make them interested in the game. As a device for a story, chess worked well. I had no idea there was a fairy tale connected to the game, but it is a good tale. Young girls will love this story. With seven short chapters, reluctant readers will have no trouble reading the entire book. (Yes, I believe there are young girls who are reluctant readers, though not as many as young boys.) An Evening with Grandpa makes a good bedtime story. For short attention spans, a chapter a night will make a week’s worth of bedtime reading. For most young girls, the book can be read in a night or two by a parent.

An Evening with Grandpa may be the first chapter book to use chess as a story device. I think this is refreshing, imaginative, and entertaining. The illustrations add visuals to a story that needs none thanks to good writing. Boys may like the tale of Pawnie, but mostly girls will enjoy this unusual tale. The battle scenes are strictly G-Rated. The only dreams this story will cause are those of becoming a princess eventually ruling the land of your ancestors.


Download an excerpt HERE

Buy the book at Amazon – A great deal at $0.99!


Learn more about the author, Diana Matlin:     linkedin     goodreads

Learn more about the illustrator, S. Chatterjee:     website      images


AN EVENING WITH GRANDPA: ADVENTURES IN CHESS LAND. Text copyright © 2013 by Diana Matlin. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by S. Chatterjee. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Diana Matlin.

SMALL FRY SAFARI 2014 (2) – Entry 3 – specific time in title (“Evening”)

sfari challenge 2







.disl evening w grandpa


16 thoughts on “#478 – An Evening with Grandpa: Adventures in Chess Land by Diana Matlin and S. Chatterjee

  1. As soon as I saw “chess” in the title, I was interested in this review! I’m far from a master at chess, but I know the basics and am actually very involved with Chess.com/TV on http://www.Chess.com (though not active lately 😦 *sigh*) There is also http://www.Chesskid.com which is a safe site for kids to learn the basics of chess for free as a basic member. Actually, Chess.com is also free as a basic member.

    In the years I’ve been involved with chess, I’ve never heard there was a fairy tale behind the game. Fairy tales have been created through the use of chess as a setting, though. In fact, I will be using chess in something I plan to write. It’s a fascinating game when you learn more about it. Of course, my brain can’t hold onto the moves as I work them out in my head, so I can’t play well. By the time I think of one plan and try to think of another, the first is gone. I drive my boyfriend crazy when we do play ’cause he can rarely predict how I’m going to move lol. I still love to play though! I am “in love” with the boards and the pieces, the look of them, the feel of them—all of it 🙂

    Since chess is the kind of game that actually benefits kids intellectually, I’m all for books that include it. ( (It’s becoming part of the required curriculum overseas and some schools in the U.S. are heading in that direction, too, I believe.) But I would have to agree with Sue—this book isn’t going to teach you chess. By the way, when a pawn reaches the opposite file to be promoted, it isn’t limited to promoting to a queen. It can also promote to a rook, bishop or knight. The queen is the most common promotion chosen because it can move in any direction on the board, making it the most powerful piece. All other pieces are limited in different ways as to which direction and how many squares they can move.

    So, that’s a very basic comment on the basics of chess 🙂 lol I hope I didn’t bore you to death! Thanks for the review, Sue! 😀


    • I get that the pawn can turn into the piece of the player’s choice, but why would you choose anything other than the Queen–the most powerful player on the board? Keep your boyfriend guessing. That is one goal of the game. I hope schools do include the game. We had a chess club in my high school filled with chess nerds – yep I was one of ’em. But I are lunch and hung out with the smart kids and the popular kids (one and the same).


      • I think chess clubs are relatively popular (?) in schools, but we’re talking as an actual part of the curriculum! 😀 They’re doing it in a few countries in Europe and Asia, and probably Russia 😀 One thing I can tell you (which I just love!) is that chess seems to be growing in popularity, by leaps and bounds. Chess.com membership has grown exponentially over the years it’s been online. I honestly think a lot has to do with it being in the Harry Potter books (esp. “Sorcerer’s Stone”) and movies 😀


  2. A fresh new fairy tale? Sounds interesting. I’ve watched chess games before and they don’t make any sense to me. I tend to fall asleep. No balls involved. But maybe this story could help me stay awake?


    • That is an interesting idea. Once every half-hour a small ball is thrown at the board and whatever gets annihilated is out of the game. That would shorten many boring, lengthy games. Hey, if there can be a 3-D chess board, why not a ball? It could be like the skittleball game I had as a kid. The pins were knocked down by a ball on a string that went around the board with an attached ball knocking pins down. Instead of pins flying it could be a bishop or a pawn. Get the King and WIN! I love dog ideas.


  3. This does sound like a great book to spark imagination and spark an interest in chess. I think the fairy tale behind the chess games is fine background to base the story on.


    • It is an interesting premise, but never really goes into how the girl gets to the other side of the board – something that is not easy to do and rarely happens, unless the sides are terriblly unbalanced.


    • Yes, chess id fun. I would love to play you. I would need to bone up first. What is your favorite opening move? Are you willing to sacrifice a knight or bishop to move out the other queen? Just curious. i can see you beating everyone you play. Seriou question. Is there anything you do not do? 🙂 It is nice to see a kid not spending most of his time playing video games.


    • No, I don’t think you can. The main character is the young girl who wants to be a princess. She is a pawn and that is the only player who is really explained. It is an easy game to learn. I bet there are dozens of sites that could teach you. I played as a kid but it has been years. I used to play backgammon a lot too. I miss playing board games. Much better than video games.


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