Grandpa’s Top Threes

Candlewick. Sept. 2019. 32p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781536211252.
PreS-Gr 2–The author/illustrator pair who created Lubna and Pebble present another gentle, emotionally rich book about grieving and loss. Henry doesn’t understand why his grandpa works alone in the garden and won’t talk to him. His mother says he needs time. To Grandpa’s apparent chagrin, Henry begins sharing lists of his “top threes,” for example, sandwiches and jellyfish. Slowly, as Henry quizzes him on his selections, the elderly man begins to open up. Grandpa initiates a fun day out, which culminates in a reflection revealing that the boy’s Grannie has recently died. When asked about his “top three grannies,” the widower shares his favorite memories of his deceased spouse. Meddour keeps the text brief and relatable to young readers. The words playfully float around the pages. Egneus’s illustrations, rendered in watercolor assembled digitally, bloom on the pages in layers of depth. The colors and shades are multidimensional and lush, especially those in natural scenes, such as the lily pad–adorned pond by which Henry and Grandpa eat their top three sandwiches. The light, shadows, and reflections on this spread create a quiet, but nonetheless breathtaking image. Henry is freckled, sweatered, and lovable, while Grandpa is whiskered and adorned with a beanie. Their love for each other is evident in their expressions.
VERDICT A tender story about grief, healing, and intergenerational families, this book can be used to open up conversations about how different people respond and react to loss. Recommended as a first purchase.

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