Friday, January 18, 2013

Perfect Picture Book Friday

TitleWhere is Grandpa?
Author/Illustrator: T.A. Barron/ Chris K. Soentpiet
Publisher/Date: Philomel Books/2000
Genre/Audience: Fiction/Ages 4+
Themes: Death of a Grandparent, grief, memories

Opening: "'Every bird needs a nest, and every kid needs a tree.' That's what Grandpa said before he built my tree house in the old cottonwood. He knew how much I like to climb trees. Especially this tree."

Synopsis: From School Library Journal - "A gentle story of a young boy's grief when his beloved grandfather dies. His family talks about their positive memories of him-adventures shared, a funny Halloween incident, and how easy he was to talk to. However, the narrator cannot verbalize his memories until his father answers such questions as "Where is Grandpa now?" or "Where is heaven?" Struggling with his own grief, his dad tries to answer as truthfully as he can. He explains that "-heaven is any place where people who love each other have shared some time together." The story is set against a backdrop of the majestic Rocky Mountains. At first, the watercolor paintings seem to glow with a very bright "liquid light" (a phrase of Grandpa's), but that brightness gradually softens to more soothing colors as the family contemplates the man's death. After Dad answers the child's questions, the colors lighten again, suggesting the coming resolution of their grief. A helpful introduction to death and the grieving process."

Why I Love This Book:
Death and grief are truly difficult subjects for young children. I appreciate the practicality, sensitivity, and honesty of this book that shows adults grieving with their children. Fond memories percolate to an understanding that "heaven is any place where people who love each other have shared some time together."

For more links to Perfect Picture Books, a collection of bloggers who contribute at Susanna Leonard Hill’s site, click here.


  1. Laura, I really like this grieving book. Don't know how I've missed it. I especially like that it isn't religious and I love the father's response. The illustrations seems to play a big role in this book -- need to check it out.

  2. I'd really like to read this - sounds wonderful!

  3. What a wonderful way of describing heaven! Great that it shows the generations grieving together.

  4. What a beautifully written book, and from what I can tell, the illustrations are compelling as well. Sensitive and inviting...

  5. This book is a lovely must-read for any child who has lost a grandparent. I'm so glad you added it to the list - it's important to have lots of choices for a topic as sensitive as this, and one that so many children have to cope with. Thanks for sharing, Laura.

  6. Laura...perfect! Books that address a child's grief over the loss of a loved one are always needed. This one looks lovely and seeing the interaction between family members will help parents find the 'right' things to say.

  7. The opening is beautiful. I hope my library has it. Thanks for the review.