Review – Grandpa Green

When you spend an inordinate amount of time and energy seeking something out, it somehow becomes more precious, more desirable. Whatever you can’t have, you want more.

For some reason, tracking down a copy of Grandpa Green by one of my favourite authors, Lane Smith, has eluded me for around six months. I’m not sure why. It’s just one of those things. Other people managed – but my efforts kept coming up . . . nada.

Until this past weekend. Stopping off at the little town of Bowral on the way home from the Central Coast, we dropped into a bookstore, and lo and behold – there it was, this leafy green book peeking from the jackets of other books – and yes, I let out a little squeal. Then I clutched that book for dear life all the way to the car, where I slowly opened and absorbed each and every beautiful page . . . pages I had expected to be even more than beautiful.

I wasn’t disappointed.

If there could be a book that would encompass all I love about children’s books, Grandpa Green would be it. The images are stunning – retro in style and quite monochromatic, which I personally adore. The combination of spindly line drawings and leafy topiary creations, plus a never-ending flow on of images from page to page – is just breathtaking.

Then, of course, there’s the story, which is strikingly written, concise and image-driven, as is Smith’s way. The pull between present and past is strongly featured and represented in both image and text – and the emotional punches of a life well-lived are as fragrant and verdant as the images that portray this emotion. Narrating Grandpa’s life is his little grandson, which lends even more beauty and tender connection.

I don’t want to say too much more about this book, because it really is a must-own/read – and you don’t want the content spoiled, but suffice to say this is one of the finest books I’ve read in a very long time. Subtle, tender, beautiful, funny and visually boggling. Keep ’em coming, Mr Smith.

Grandpa Green is published by Roaring Brook Press

Published by

Tania McCartney

Tania McCartney is an author of children's books and adult non-fiction. Recent books include Riley and the Grumpy Wombat: A journey around Melbourne, and Australian Story: An Illustrated Timeline. She's also an editor, publisher and founder of Kids Book Review.