Story time is the best time of the day. Whether we're snuggled up on the couch or cozy in our pjs before bed, reading stories with my little ones is one of my favorite things to do. Everyone has a favorite book they remember from their childhood, and every day, parents and kids are discovering new classics of their own. There are many fabulous children's books out there, some of which everyone knows about and others we would have never discovered had my son not simply pulled a random book off a library shelf. I created this blog to share some of these wonderful stories with you. Think of it as a year's worth of the best children's books around, since no day should be without a great story. In the end, I hope we'll all have discovered at least a few new titles that will have made their way onto our list of family favorites. Enjoy!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Day 202: Grandpa Green

We've gotten this gorgeous story out of the library several times now, and each time, I've vowed that I'm going to go home and blog about it.  Grandpa Green is an absolutely beautiful book, brought to life by some of the loveliest, most creative illustrations I've ever seen. 

In this heartfelt, poignant story, a young boy recounts the life of his great-grandfather, a remarkable man whose experiences and memories have been magically preserved in his garden.  As we wander among Grandpa Green's topiary trees, we learn of his childhood on a farm, time as a soldier in a world war, how he met his wife in a French cafe, and of the family they went on to create together.  Along the way, the great-grandson is seen admiring the memories so beautifully sculpted for him.  If you look closely, you'll also notice that he is gradually collecting gardening tools that have been left behind, as if to reassure us that his great-grandfather's memories and talents will live on long after he is gone.   
Grandpa Green is definitely the type of book that kids and adults of all ages will love for different reasons.  My children love studying the illustrations and quietly observing new details each time we read it, especially given their love of nature.  In many ways, though, I think this book is one that I love and appreciate far more than they do.  There are so many clever little things within the story that might be missed by kids but exhibit exactly why this book is so brilliant, such as the topiary sculpture of an elephant on the page that tells us how the great-grandpa sometimes "forgets things like his favorite floppy straw hat," or the way that the leaves on the tree gradually fade from green to brown when we learn that now Grandpa Green is pretty old.  I feel like we could read this story 100 times and discover something new each time.  

Grandpa Green was a Caldecott Honor Book in 2012, and deservedly so.  The text is brief, but the illustrations add volumes to this touching, whimsical story.  The description on the jacket cover describes this lovely book as exploring "aging, memory, and the bonds of family history and love."  The New York Times Book Review calls it "an unassuming little masterpiece" whose "power lies in its rich, allusive artistry."  I couldn't agree more.  


Unknown said...

I read this post back when you posted it, but it never really sunk in. I wanted to share that I finally read it tonight with my oldest. I was breathless as I read it because the story itself is almost a replica of my grandfather's story. He was studying horticulture when he was sent off to WW2. Came home and married my grandmother- and spent many happy years gardening. He taught my brother all he knew about horticulture, and my brother went on the study it in college. Just ordered the book for him. Thanks for connecting me with this book.

Lauren said...

Jenny, that is simply amazing! Thank you so much for writing to tell me. Your story made me feel so happy inside :) So glad you've found this book. Sounds as though it was meant for you and your family!

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