(Macmillan Children’s Books)
This little bear’s grandpa is his very special friend, but he is getting old. Sometimes he behaves like an old man, sometimes he behaves like a child. Sometimes he is full of wild stories and adventures, sometimes he seems lost and confused. But that makes him who he is, and that’s why little bear loves him.
My Grandpa tells the special and moving relationship between an elderly grandfather and his grandson. Narrated by the grandson, we bear witness to the effects of old age seen through the eye of this little bear, with all the love and worry he feels towards his grandfather. This innocent look at old age is incredibly poignant and warm-hearted. The use of limited palette of colours (variations of browns and reds) help convey this sense of warmth within the two characters, but the autumnal feel also expresses the stage in life that the grandpa is now entering. Marta Altés’ style is uncluttered, with a lot of white space, giving all the focus of the page on the duo. The use of black line help emphasise the expression on both bears’ faces marvellously. The drawings are simple, but distinctively evocative.
My Grandpa is a wonderful story to share with children who have special relationships with their grandparents, but also one that might go quite a way at trying to explain senility, dementia or even Alzheimer’s Disease to young children who might be witnessing uncharacteristic behaviour from a grandparent or relative. The warmth of the story will go a long way at soothing worries and showing that this is sometimes part of growing old, and that grandparents (and older people in general) suffering from a similar condition need a whole lot of love, gentleness and understanding. The little bear in this story accepts that sometimes his grandfather does not recognise him, and that will be a tough thing to understand and accept for young readers, but the story really shows that it is ok for them to be that way.
My Grandpa is a beautiful, brave book which offers an honest and bittersweet, yet very warm, look on growing old. I found it to be both splendid and heartbreaking. Don’t miss it!
Source: review copy from the publisher