Posted by: Erica Gillingham | June 21, 2012

Guest Blogger: Grandpa Green

Grandpa Green

Lane Smith, New York: Roaring Brook Press, hb. 978 1 59643 607 7, $16.99, 2011, 32pp.

I’ve always been fascinated by gardens. They’re peaceful. They’re pretty to look at. And they’re wonderful places to grow stories. In Grandpa Green, a 2012 Caldecott Honor Book, Lane Smith weaves together garden and story to create a heart-warming tale of a little boy and his relationship with his great-grandfather. The little boy’s brief history of his great-grandfather’s life is illustrated and explained by the topiary trees that he helps his great-grandfather tend. Babies, animals, familiar characters, and airplanes all have a special place in the garden and in the great-grandfather’s memory.

Smith’s color palette, concise text, and unique illustrations work together beautifully. The darker and almost heavier illustrations of the topiary trees represent the past while the lighter illustrations of the boy remind the reader of the present. The blending of light and dark helps younger readers separate memories of the past with actions of the present while also showing how the two are connected. The simple, concise text leaves just the right amount of gaps; readers will enjoy coming back to the story to discover new ideas and images.

I’ve hit an age where I’m growing more and more interested in my family’s history. I only have one grandparent still living, and I regret not asking the others more questions about their lives while they were here. Smith’s story touches on themes of aging and family history, and I’m very jealous of the little boy who knows so much about his great-grandfather’s life. I love the idea of a physical history in the form of topiary trees that the little boy and the now often forgetful great-grandfather can peruse at their leisure. I also love how the little boy remains connected to his family’s past through his upkeep of the garden. Grandpa Green is a truly moving tale that should be shared with all members of the family. Perhaps it will inspire you to create your own account of family history.

Holly Grise is a freelance writer and editor in educational publishing and hails from Ohio, USA. You can learn more about her on our About Us page or check out her blog, Embracing the Geek. We’re very excited to have her keen insights in children’s literature now on Picture Book Palette as a guest blogger!

HT Macmillan for the photo!



  1. […] third picture book review is now available to read on Picture Book Palette. I take a look at Lane Smith’s 2012 Caldecott Honor Book Grandpa Green. So click on the link […]

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