Today, I am showcasing three exceptional picture books that all feature a child and their grandfather as well as celebrating nature. While they share these themes, all three are unique. Finn’s Garden Friends includes facts about protecting wildlife, Grandpa’s Gift is about finding beauty in cities and If All the World Were… is a moving story about losing a grandparent and cherishing memories. There is one more thing they all definitely have in common: they are ALL firm favourites with my whole family.
Finn’s Garden Friends by Rachel Lawston and Lia Visirin
First up, is a gorgeously illustrated picture book that seamlessly blends fact and fiction.
When Finn moves into his Grandpa’s city flat, he misses having a garden. But Grandpa has a surprise in store: he has an allotment. Perhaps there is nature to be found in the city after all…
Having grown up in a flat without a garden, this book instantly resonated with me. Lia’s illustrations are simply stunning. They are so full of life and the colours of nature. The picture of all the allotments filled me with joy. I felt like I was outdoors! It was also lovely to see a multiracial family featured.
Grandpa shows Sid how to grow fruit and veg and make a compost heap. Rachel has seamlessly woven facts into the story whilst using playful language throughout.
Then, Sid discovers a hedgehog and its hoglets. He also discovers a greedy fox! Can Sid help the hedgehog get the food it needs? And can Grandpa show Sid that foxes aren’t as bad as they may first appear…
Just when I thought this book couldn’t get any better, we discovered the final page: full of wildlife that Lia has hidden within the pages of the book. My daughter (and all of us actually!) had so much fun, going back through the book to spot all of the creatures and fungi. There is also a wonderful spread full of interesting nature facts.
Finn’s Garden Friends is an absolute triumph! We adored this book from start to finish, and it has that wonderful picture book quality that makes you want to re-read it over and over again. I really hope we can read more books by both Rachel and Lia in the future.
Published by Pikku Publishing , 28 April 2021
Grandpa’s Gift by Fiona Lumbers
We were so excited to read Grandpa’s Gift and it did not disappoint! Fiona Lumbers is one of our all-time favourite illustrators and we were delighted to read one of the picture books she has written as well as illustrated. For me personally, I found it very special to see a child and grandfather with similar skin tones my own grandad and me.
Written in first person, through the eyes of a little boy, Grandpa’s Gift, is about appreciating the beauty that is all around us in our everyday lives.
Fiona’s use of greens and blues in this book is masterful. She creates an atmosphere that evolves alongside the story. In the beginning, we really feel the young boy’s sadness in the grey city but then, when he discovers a Tardis-like shop of trinkets, an air of magical mystery begins to grow.
The magical atmosphere continues to build until he discovers a geode. What can I say about Fiona’s illustration of the geode: it is spectacular, exquisite, flawless!
The geode is the perfect metaphor for this story: finding the beauty in the ordinary. From this point in the book, Fiona’s palette of blues and green wash over every aspect of her illustrations as the young boy’s world sparkles into life.
My daughter was mesmerised by this book. She now looks for large grey rocks on our walks and asks if there are magic crystals inside! Fiona has a wonderful talent of transporting you into the worlds she creates. Grandpa’s Gift is a gift to every reader, young and old!
Published by Simon & Schuster, 27 May 2021
If All the World Were… by Joseph Coelho and Allison Colpoys
The relationship between a child and grandparent is so precious and if ever a book could do it justice, it is If All the World Were… This book made me cry and smile in almost equal measure. Together, Joseph and Allison have created a picture book that feels like more than a book. It is a poetic tribute to the sacred, ever-lasting bond between a grandchild and grandparent.
Joseph and Allison take us through the seasons, from Spring to Winter. The vibrancy, love and joy of Allison’s illustrations is captivating. My daughter and I spent ages on each page, soaking in the details.
Having lost my own beloved grandad last year, I found myself choking up as I read Joseph’s words: If all the world were springtime, I would replant my grandad’s birthdays so that he would never get old.
Slowly, as we move through the story, and the seasons, we understand grandad is sick: If all the world were stories, I could make my grandad better just by listening, listening, listening to every tale he has to tell.
But whilst there are these poignant, beautiful, lyrical moments about aging, sickness and ultimately the loss of a grandad, the overarching theme is love. Allison’s illustrations lift this story and make the joy and love of the child and grandad ever-present, even after he is gone.
As an adult reader, I found this book so comforting, as I grieve for the loss of my grandad. For my daughter, who lost her great-grandad, it was a beautiful book to share with her and talk about our feelings. I don’t think I will ever read a better book on the loss of a grandparent.
Published by Quarto, 3 January 2019
I am very grateful to the publishers for providing me with a complimentary copies of these books. This voluntary feature contains my honest opinion.