A playful, somewhat dense picture book on the warm relationship between fourth-grader Maddie and her resourceful grandfather, conveyed through a tapestry of colored illustrations.
Told from Maddie’s point of view, the book opens with a brief introduction to her world, including descriptions of her dog, home and most importantly, her grandfather. Although he seems a bit of a curmudgeon, Grandfather definitely has a soft spot for Maddie and is never without a corny joke. From the beginning, Maddie’s voice seems slightly immature for a ten-year-old, as does her unchecked enthusiasm for hanging out with her grandfather. This enthusiasm is underscored by the profuse use of exclamation points sprinkled throughout the text, which is distracting. However, as the text unfolds and Maddie and Grandfather become engaged in the labor and fun of building forts as a way to escape boredom and avoid chores this disconnect fades. As both writer and illustrator, Whitcomb places several illustrations on each page, to add to the reader’s understanding of Maddie and Grandfather’s personalities. While these pictures are extremely helpful in envisioning the final fort that the duo build in Grandfather’s field from the branches of a pear tree, their low quality may detract from the reader’s overall enjoyment of the book. The illustrations are digitally altered photographs of Maddie, her family and the fort, which are pixilated, slightly blurring and distorting the images and creating a displeasing haunting effect that is out of sync with the overall positive nature of the text.
A cheerful text on family and nature, appropriate for young readers, somewhat marred by faulty art.