Grandad’s Island

My bigger boy is a massive fan of his Grandads. He has three of them and loves them all with unfaltering enthusiasm, they are his most dedicated playmates, mischief makers and companions. This Christmas, one Grandad bought him a copy of Grandad’s Island, written and illustrated by Benji Davies and published by Simon and Schuster. This is a beautiful picture book, it conveys perfectly the unique relationship between children and their grandparents through a brilliant story of love and loss.

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It starts with Syd going to visit his Grandad, a familiar and well trodden routine. However, this time is different. Something has changed. Grandad isn’t where Syd expects to find him. Instead, he is in the loft where a secret door opens and they set sail on a voyage to Grandad’s Island. Davies illustrations are wonderful, the island is both exciting and new whilst still feeling comforting and warm. They are having a lovely time until Grandad breaks the news to Syd that he is happy on the island and is going to stay there.

Gulp.

Syd returns, alone. His journey is illustrated in a stark contrast to the colourful and vibrant island. Dark
and stormy skies help to reflect the emotions and feelings of loss. Of finding your way in the world when a loved one has gone. Back at Grandad’s house things have started to disappear but there are reminders for Syd of how his Grandad will always be with him.

The first time I read this book I choked up…. In fact, every time my bigger boy brings me this book to read I get choked up! I can’t get to the end without a lump in my throat.

There is so much to talk about on many levels, from the meaning of the story, the emotions involved to the rich content of the drawings (our particular favourite picture is the orangutan serving cocktails and coffee) The deeper meaning goes right over the head of my 3 year old, he thankfully hasn’t had to deal with the loss of anyone in his life yet and for him this is an exciting story about a Grandad with a magic island. But when the inevitable happens I know this will be a book we will turn to to help us through, with a packet of tissues on the side.

 

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