A gentle look at grief.
This quiet picture book starts with Henry, a little chatterbox, talking in a garden shed crowded with plants and implements. “But Grandpa was gardening. Again.” Grandpa doesn’t want to play trains or tell anyone what he wants for lunch. “Just give him time,” Mom says, hinting at something deeper. Henry engages his otherwise-mute grandfather by asking him about his “top three” sandwiches and jellyfish, generously offering his own opinions first. Slowly Grandpa comes out of his shell, a smile peeking out from behind his bushy beard. After a top-three day out (to the zoo, swimming pool, and park), Henry asks, “Who are your top three Grannies?” and goes on to answer: “Mine are Granny who is dead,” followed by his living grandmother and a fictional one. Readers thus finally learn the reason for Grandpa’s sadness and withdrawal as he shares more about his late wife, connecting with his grandson in the process. Well-paced and closely structured, this story works on every level, with Egnéus’ watercolors showing a range of emotion and activity, balancing clutter with space. It’s not quite a story for children processing grief, as Henry seems fairly unaffected, but it may help families explain to children why the grown-ups in their lives are behaving differently after loss. Henry and his family present white.
Peaceful and heartfelt. (Picture book. 3-7)