A grandfather gives magical potions to his granddaughter for her birthdays in this children’s picture book.
Little Madeline likes a lot of things about her Grandfather Gilderberry, a tinkerer who’s always inventing things in his workshop. But what she likes best, she says, is her grandfather’s magical birthday presents. Every year, he presents her with a box of potions and instructions to “Take a potion, take a brew. / Just don’t drink the pink.” Over the years, she’s discovered each potion’s temporary magical effects; the blue one, for example, turns her into a mermaid; the green potion gives her superstrength. Before her 15th birthday, her grandfather dies, but he leaves her the pink potion with a “Happy Birthday” note. While drinking it, she wishes to see her grandfather again, and she’s pulled back in time. Fegan (The World’s Greatest Mousetrap, 2019, etc.) subtly teaches counting and colors in this warmhearted, amusing picture book. The quatrains, which have an abcb rhyme, scan well and include comforting repetition. Kids will enjoy seeing the fun magical effects of Grandfather’s potions, which illustrator Wen (Secrets of the Great Fire Tree, 2019, etc.) vibrantly brings to life. The early-20th-century details and clothing styles are intriguing. Madeline’s family is portrayed as white while crowds include diverse skin tones.
Imaginative, poignant, and humorous—altogether charming.