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Grandpa Green Hardcover – Aug 30 2011

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press; First Edition edition (Aug. 30 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781596436077
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596436077
  • ASIN: 1596436077
  • Product Dimensions: 28.7 x 1.2 x 22.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 431 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #123,578 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


In this affecting picture book, a boy recounts the life of his beloved great-grandfather…The author's illustrations, a blend of line drawings and sponge painting, have a classic feel, and make clever use of the topiary theme, rewarding close examination and repeated reading. (The New Yorker)

Great-grandpa's memory may be going, but the past remains vibrantly alive in the playful topiaries that decorate his brilliantly green yard. Lush and magical. (People)

An unassuming little masterpiece…the book's power lies in its rich, allusive artistry. (New York Times Book Review)

It's a rare glimpse into Smith's softer side--as skillful as his more sly offerings, but crafted with honesty and heart. (Publishers Weekly Starred Review)

Visually intriguing and emotionally resonant, this is a book to pore over and talk about. With each subsequent reading, it offers new layers of meaning and visual connections. (School Library Journal Starred Review)

Opening this book is like opening a gate to a secret garden, filled with the treasures of a life well lived. In his portrait of a boy who adores and honors his forgetful great-grandfather, Smith shows us that the things that are meaningful to the ones we love become part of our garden, too. (Shelf Awareness)

Though this book has lots of adult appeal, it will also be a wonderful bridge to exploring family history with the very young. (Kirkus Reviews)

Sketched with a finely lined fairy-tale wispiness and dominated by verdant green, the illustrations are not just creative but poignant. (Booklist)

About the Author

Lane Smith has written and illustrated a bunch of stuff, including It's a Book; John, Paul, George & Ben and Madam President. His titles with Jon Scieszka have included the Caldecott Honor-winner The Stinky Cheese Man; The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs; Math Curse; and Science Verse. Lane's other high profile titles include Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! by Dr. Seuss and Jack Prelutsky; The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip by George Saunders; Big Plans by Bob Shea; and James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. In 1996 Lane served as Conceptual Designer on the Disney film version of James and the Giant Peach. Lane also wrote and illustrated the retro, cult favorites, The Happy Hocky Family and The Happy Hocky Family Moves to the Country. Like the Hocky family, he and book designer Molly Leach live in a little town in the country.

Inside This Book

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By Kot Matroskin on June 3 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My 3-4 year old and myself really like this book. The illustrations are wonderful - not too bright or silly how they sometimes make it in kids books. The story is great too - warm and kind.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 61 reviews
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
A layered tale of loves lost and found and lost again but forever remembered Aug. 3 2011
By Jason Kirkfield - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Lane Smith wrote and illustrated this cycle-of-life story. (His wife, Molly Leach, did the book design.) The book's own ten-word summary says it all: "A child explores the ordinary life of his extraordinary great-grandfather." If you allow me to indulge, I will gladly add my own slightly-longer-than-ten-word review.

Grandpa Green is not your run-of-the-mill picture book. It is a layered tale of loves lost and found and lost again but forever remembered. Like the collaborative City Dog, Country Frog, this book would be particularly appropriate for children who have lost a loved one, in this case a grandparent instead of a pet. But Grandpa Green trumps that Mo Willems/John J Muth effort, because it is imbued with a lifetime's worth of remembrances, supported by memory-anchored illustrations. As the boy recounts his great-grandfather's ultimately not so ordinary life, he progressively collects gardening tools that Grandpa Green has forgetfully left scattered throughout the garden. Enjoyably for the reader, most of these inventory items whimsically enhance the memories captured in the beautifully drawn (grown?) foliage. Some of Lane's artwork here is best appreciated on subsequent readings; I think I will let my kids find all the wonderful little details on their own.

The final page (in fact, the only page following the four-page fold-out dénouement) sees the boy creating a topiary on his own, this of his great-grandfather. Thus the cycle continues: the old man's love for horticulture--and the boy's love for the old man--both assured.

Jason Kirkfield, Vine Review, August 3, 2011
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
sublime Jan. 23 2012
By K. Francois - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The first time I read this to my rambunctious 5.5yo son I finished it and thought "huh, beautiful, but I don't feel like I got much out of it, how are children supposed to get this?" But as I went to set it to the side my son stopped me, he'd noticed something in the book and wanted to go through and read it again. Sure enough, another layer emerged at the second reading, and the third reading that night.

This has become one of our bedtime favorites. It's a book that gets us to slow down and talk about what we're reading (a slowness that pairs well with the topiary images I think). I'm thankful that the text is brief because it allows us to read it multiple times in an evening and fill in the spaces with our world observations. (and it really is beautifully illustrated.)
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Gracefully tackles the subjects of aging and intergenerational relationships Dec 22 2011
By Brimful Curiosities - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Grandpa Green captures important life moments in his garden, a horticultural memoir of sorts showing events and people from his past preserved in topiary. His great-grandson explores the lush trip down memory lane, stopping by all the carefully shaped trees and bushes and picking up the tools his great-grandfather has dropped along the way. A crying baby trimmed from a bush symbolizes Grandpa Green's birth, a carrot shaped topiary reminds everyone of his farming background, and a cannon and parachuters made out of plants represent his wartime experiences. "He used to remember everything. Now he's pretty old." Grandpa Green shapes his story plant by plant with his clippers, his most significant memories living on, flourishing and serving as a reminder, while adding new ones as he is assisted by his great-grandchild. Grandpa Green's legacy stands, ready to be passed down generation after generation.

Grandpa Green is the kind of book that affects people, young and old, in different ways. It's a poignant and interesting exploration of a life, and though Smith describes it as a fictional story, it seems deeply personal. Those with an elderly friend or family member or those with loved ones diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease will find it particularly touching. And even though the book tackles serious topics, there are plenty of touches of humor and playfulness that you'd expect from Smith like bunnies eating a topiary carrot and a reference to the Wizard of Oz. Both my daughter and son love to discuss all the detailed images found in the ink line drawings and painted foliage.

Minimal text accompanies the amazing illustrations. The story is told by the great-grandson as he wanders through the garden, connecting young readers to the story. It's not easy bringing up the topic of aging with children. My own children are lucky enough to see two of their great-grandparents regularly and while they love them dearly, it's hard for them to see past the wrinkles and gray hair, to understand the past and see how it intertwines with their own life. It's amazing how books like this help bridge the gap and give kids reasons to search out their own family stories.

Lane Smith's new picture book, Grandpa Green, gracefully tackles the subjects of aging and intergenerational relationships. With unusually lush, green illustrations, it's simply a beautiful book. Read the book one-on-one together with a child, linger over the fine illustrations, and encourage the child to ask questions about his/her own great-grandparents, grandparents and family history. And, if you're like me, you'll find yourself profoundly touched as well, perhaps even a little watery-eyed.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Symbolic Connections of a Life July 31 2011
By VReviews - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Multi-award winning author and illustrator Lane Smith has hit another one out-of-the-park, or in this case garden. From the very first page, young and old alike will be drawn into the whimsical garden of `Grandpa Green". Told through the eyes of Grandpa Green's great-grandkid, each page tells a piece of Grandpa Green's life via the visual world of his topiary trees, and a few perfectly captured words.

The illustrations are done in a subtle palette of green with light touches of yellow, blue and grey, reminiscent of Margaret Bloy Graham's classic illustrations in Gene Zion's `Harry the Dirty Dog' series. Each page provides a biographic fact from Grandpa Green's life; but what makes this tale so delightful is the symbolic topiary trees. Various perspectives are employed to challenge the visual reader to first see the picture and then understand the symbolic meaning of each topiary. Humor is not only expressed within the trees; but also through the boys attempts to help in the garden.

Teachers will delight in the page by page opportunities for instruction across content areas. From idioms, time-order words, summarizing skills, time & place discussions; to science (plants & animals), health (memory, aging) and social science (family, community, WWII) lessons, `Grandpa Green' is packed full of ideas for exploration in the classroom. This is an outstanding book for elementary age kids; but importantly this is also a book for every adult who longs to remember the magic from their past, and the continuity of their life.

A Harry the Dirty Dog Treasury: Three Stories
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful illustrations, story is lacking Nov. 17 2011
By Alaskan Realtor - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Yes, this is a children's picture book with beautiful illustrations. It tells Granpa Green's story in topiaries throughout the book. It's very clever and something I've never seen before. However, it is a children's picture book, and the target audience is preschool children. My 4 1/2 year old son got rather bored with the book because there really is not much in the way of captivating text. My 20 month old daughter liked the pictures, but there are other books she goes to long before she'll pick this one up.

I think this is a sweet, old fashioned book that appeals more to parents than to young children. I also have a bit of an issue with the book talking about Grandpa going to war, and showing a topiary cannon. My son asked what that was, and at 4 1/2 I don't feel comfortable discussing war with him yet. Perhaps if he were 6 or 7, but this book doesn't have the story line to captivate children of that age.

Bottom Line: This is a beautiful coffee table book, but not something young children will love.