CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number 11. . . .November 18, 2016
My Good Friend, Grandpa offers a delicate tale of familial friendship and commemorates the special role grandparents play in children's lives. Grandpa and Noah are not only family but also dear friends attending football games together, sharing summers at the cottage, sunny afternoons at the beach, and discussing the details of the day with regular phone calls. Due to their remarkable relationship, even the smallest of adventures, like watering flowers and feeding the birds, become meaningful moments of adventure.
Sadly as Noah prepares for his ninth birthday, he receives a call from Grandpa advising of illness and his unfortunate absence from the birthday celebration. This acts as a turning point in the story, as well as in Noah and Grandpa’s relationship, as Noah adjusts to his grandpa’s declining health and begins to find alternative ways to keep their bond strong. Outdoor adventures become indoor exercises of imaginative play as Noah recognizes Grandpa can longer help him navigate the physical world. It is here that Elaine Sharfe’s writing truly shines as she gives Noah’s relationship with his grandfather a burgeoning maturity and authentic tenderness.
Children and adults alike are sure to recognize the special bond that often exists between grandparent and grandchild. This is emphasized by the simple yet colourful illustrations by Karen Sim accompanying the text to provide visual snapshots of Grandpa and Noah’s friendship. The normality of these pictures functions well as a documentation of beloved memories recounted in the story much like a photo album captures moments of our own special events and vacations.
Although the book avoids addressing a finite conclusion to Grandpa’s declining health, the story offers a gentle guide for dealing with the transition families experience when a loved one becomes ill, including the way roles and responsibilities often change. Ideal for preschool and primary grade readers, My Good Friend, Grandpa is sure to become a favourite nighttime read for families as they reflect not only on the relationship between Noah and Grandpa but also make personal connections and share their own family memories.
Amy Westbury is a teacher-librarian at Bruce Trail Public School in Milton, ON.
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