Review Blog

Dec 13 2012

Following Grandfather by Rosemary Wells

cover image

Ill. by Christopher Denise. Candlewick Press, 2012, ISBN 9780763650698.
(Ages: 7+) Recommended. Death. Not a theme that often appears in children's books, this reminds us all that memories are what keep people alive after they have died. Jennie is often with her grandfather, and hears wonderful stories from him about coming to America, setting up business in Boston, building up a restaurant, marrying and having offspring. When the time came he passed on the running of the restaurant to Jennie's parents and they were so busy that it was he who cared for Jennie. This meant often going to the beach where they would look a the shells washed up on the beach, Grandfather telling stories about the Titanic and how one mouse came to be saved. He tells her stories about setting up his restaurant in Boston, its growing popularity and then the need for others to take it over.
But one day he is there no more. The funeral is attended by many mice from all over the city, but Jennie cannot cope with the idea of his death. She still sees him, and follows those who look like him, sometimes about to speak to them until she realises that it is not her grandfather. At the beach one day she is swept out to sea, but strong arms bring her back to shore and acceptance.
A lovely story about memories of those who have died, the way they can still stay with you when they have gone, of remembering the stories they have told you and using those stories to remember that person; this will be a popular book within classrooms where death is to be discussed, or where a death has occurred in someone's family and a discussion needs to be initiated. Many children will recall the objects that remind them of a relative who has gone, and so bring a personal note to the reading of the story.
Fran Knight

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