Grandpa Green by Lane Smith

Grandpa Green is an original, heartwarming book that celebrates the life of a beloved great-grandfather.

The book begins with a boy in a garden telling us tidbits about his great-grandpa’s life as they were told to him.

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As the boy walks us through the garden and his great-grandpa’s story, however, the reader soon realises that this is no ordinary garden, but a repository of a full life lived, which has been immortalised in the form of his great-grandfather’s elaborate topiary sculptures — each of which captures a treasured memory, ranging from the time he was a child to when he became a great-grandfather.

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The story takes a poignant turn when the boy tells us how, now that his great-grandfather is old, he can’t remember much about his life, so his garden “remembers” it for him. Of course, what’s unsaid but sweetly implied is that his life is also remembered by his loved ones, like his great-grandson who goes around picking up the things that his forgetful great-granddad leaves behind.

Some reviews have pegged this as an “adult’s picture book” — and given its heartfelt themes of family and the inevitable circle of life, I can’t say that I disagree with them. However, that’s not to say that this book cannot be enjoyed by children — though, naturally, on a lesser, more superficial level until they understand and experience more of life and (hopefully, not for a long, long time) loss. Regardless, this is a special book that deserves to be read and shared, even for the gorgeous illustrations alone.

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