In honor of Grandparent’s Day yesterday, I re-read a favorite Lane Smith picture book, Grandpa Green. Lane Smith is most notable for his illustrations (like the ones in James and the Giant Peach and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs) but he has also written a lot of great picture books, such as John, Paul, George, and Ben and The Happy Hocky Family.
In this book, a great-grandson recalls the events of his horticulture-loving great-grandfather’s life. The simple, straightforward sentences delightfully capture a poignant mood as the child fondly tells his great-grandfather’s story and honors his legacy while traipsing through topiary bushes with his wagon. The beautiful shades of green that pop off every page are pleasing to the eye and make it clear why this book was a Caldecott Honor award winner. I also appreciate the literary references when Smith writes about how Grandpa Green became ill with chicken pox and how “He had to stay home from school. So he read stories about secret gardens and wizards and a little engine that could.” In fact, the more I have read this book over the years, the more I have appreciated it. It’s the perfect picture book for a little one to cozy up with Grandma or Grandpa and read together! Someday, I would love to have students (or my own kids) write their own version of Grandpa Green for their own grandparent. It would be the most meaningful and heartwarming present. -Marika