When her beloved grandfather dies, a grieving little mouse imagines she sees him in their favorite Boston haunts in this gentle story of intergenerational love and loss.
Jenny’s enterprising grandfather arrives in mid-20th-century Boston’s North End as a steamship stowaway and settles in the attic of Salvadore’s Spaghetti House, where he operates his own successful Italian restaurant. By the time Jenny’s born, Grandfather has retired and takes care of her, spooning warm milk over her pudding, teaching her to button her buttons and letting her fall asleep to the ticking of his pocket watch. Later, Grandfather escorts Jenny through the North End to meet his friends and to Revere Beach to search for shells. When she’s older, Grandfather encourages Jenny to be proud of her humble origins and never look at the snobbish “Lodges, Lowells, or Cabots with envy or shame.” Jenny follows Grandfather everywhere, until one day he’s gone, “never to come back,” leaving her desolate and diminished until she discovers his enduring legacy in a seashell. Writing with tenderness and humor, Wells creates an authentic, parallel, mouse-sized world within Boston while introducing readers to human-sized devotion and grief in the fully developed relationship between Jenny and Grandfather. Softly anthropomorphic black-and-white illustrations expressively convey the bond between a mouse and her inspiring grandfather.
Poignant and sweet. (Animal fantasy. 6-9)