A young boy does not want to visit his “weird” great-grandfather.
In Bilovsky’s debut picture book, a boy is traveling in the car with his mother when he realizes she is driving to his great-grandfather’s house. As they pull in the driveway, he gets out, crosses his arms and declares: “I’m not going in.” But his mother gently beckons him, explaining, “Poppy is my grandpa. That makes him your GREAT grandpa. That’s very special.” As they approach the house, the boy explains why he doesn’t want to visit: “He sounds like a frog.” In the boy’s imagination—represented by a bubble—is a frog that looks like his great-grandpa with a gaping smile, white bushy eyebrows, and reading glasses resting on his nose. His mother explains: “One too many ‘I love you’s talked his voice right out.” His mother, ever the wise one, always soothes her son’s qualms with his great-grandfather’s quirks. Her son complains: “He stares at me funny, like a fly who can’t tell what is real.” This time a friendly fly wears great-grandpa’s glasses topped by his characteristic white eyebrows. His mother tears up: “Millions of memories dance in those eyes. Sometimes it’s hard to know what is now and what is a memory.” Bishop’s illustrations, beautifully rendered in watercolor, are as funny as they are charming. Young readers will delight in the pictures of the great-grandfather as he metamorphoses into various creatures. Bilovksy humorously addresses and lovingly explores the apprehension children may have when visiting their elderly relatives, with all the oddities that come with an aging body. Parents could point out the difference between the illustration on the front and back covers. On the front is the great-grandfather, ebullient and gap-toothed, while his great-grandson looks away, and on the back, the two share frosted cupcakes while the little boy looks adoringly at him.
Filled with tender, teachable moments, this one’s also sure to tickle the funny bone.