The relationship between grandfather and grandson is evocatively portrayed in this spare but powerful look at the warm interdependency of age and youth.
A bespectacled, light brown, mature bear walks with a cane against a stark white background. A bright red leaf—perhaps signaling the beginning of the autumn season or his time in life—swirls to the ground and briefly captures the bear’s attention before he focuses on a flock of small birds, some red and others brown. “My grandpa is getting old… // Sometimes he feels alone.” A page turn reveals a spunky candy red young bear bursting onto the scene to greet his relative: “But then I come along!” The birds take to the sky, and the duo begins their time together. The language has a gentle and comforting, back-and-forth rhythm. “When he is with me, he smiles. / When I am with him, I can fly!” An especially humorous spread first shows Grandpa’s head buried in a newspaper and then turning up his nose at an offered spoonful from his grandson. “At times he behaves like an old man. / At times he’s like a child.” Although the elder has moments of struggle with his memory or getting lost, the young one comes to the rescue with a hug or a guiding hand. Altés employs an elegant restraint with the book’s design. The limited palette and broad expanse of white space allow the story to truly shine.
Even though titles about aging grandparents are many, this tale stands out for its stunning simplicity and avoidance of heavy-handed messages. (Picture book. 3-6)