Book Review: Grandpa Green by Lane Smith

grandpa green

Grandpa Green by Lane Smith

Released August 30, 2011.

Grandpa Green was born long ago.  He grew up on a farm, got chicken pox in fourth grade, and kissed a girl in middle school.  Though he wanted to be a horticulturist, he ended up going to war.  There he met his future wife, whom he married when the war ended.  Now Grandpa Green is getting old and starting to forget things.  But he doesn’t forget the most important things, because the garden keeps his memories for him.

Smith has created an amazing world in the pages of this book.  It is a place where a man brings his memories to life through topiary, each one more inventive and beautiful than the next.  Smith has kept his words simple.  Just enough to move the story forward.

It is the pictures that tell the story here.  Smith has lightened the characters down to line drawings and subtle color.  The topiaries are a vivid green, bursting with life against the white of the page.  Grandpa’s memories are more solid than the real world, which works beautifully with the story.  The topiaries are whimsical and gorgeous, shown as the little boy moves through the garden and interacts with them.  There is one amazing page with the boy hanging from a branch of a giant tree where the leaves turn from green to autumn to bare branches as the eye moves across the tree.  It is a visual of aging that works beautifully.

This is a creative and entrancing picture book that brings memories to green life, celebrates a great-grandfather, and shows the relationship between him and his great-grandson.  It is a triumph of a picture book!  One of my favorites of the year, and one that should be under consideration for a Caldecott.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.

Also reviewed by Shelf Awareness.

Check out the trailer that almost catches the charm of the book: