Grandad’s Island by Benji Davies (Candlewick Press, 2015) is a book that I have been thrilled to read, I adore the illustrations Benji Davies creates, they are vibrant and just jump off of the page. Not to mention this is a book that deals with a little boy, Syd, who loves his Grandad. Sid lives next-door to his Grandad and he knows just where the key is to be able to stop in and visit him anytime. However, one day Syd stops by and his Grandad is not where he normally is, he is in the attic.
In the attic there is a secret metal door, once this is opened it leads to a ship and slowly the rooftops meld into the sea and they are off. With exceptionally fun language “Steady she goes”, “Land Ahoy”that just makes this story all the more touching. Once they arrive on the island there is lots of work to be done. The island starts out shaded and dark, but soon with the help of the local inhabitants Syd and his Grandad have created quite a lovely spot. Syd and Grandad explore the island and all that it has to offer; enjoying each others company and you assume they always have. It is the most perfect place. As Syd is preparing to leave this magical place he has so enjoyed with his Grandad; his Grandad says, “Syd, there’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you. You see…I’m thinking of staying” As you would imagine Syd worries that his Grandad will be lonely, he assures him that no he won’t. This spread in the book is by far one of the most glorious illustrations, it is bright, it is cheerful, all of the animals are there with smiles and perfect little spots have been created a chair with tea and gramophone and of course the lovely little shack that they worked on together.
This book is a wonderful look at love and loss in a way that petites can understand – as Syd sails away you feel that sense of loss. For someone like me who barely needs a reason to cry, I found tears streaming down my face. I love that attention is paid to the journey home and how it seemed much longer without Grandad.
Syd is home safe and sound and the follow day goes to check on Grandad, but he isn’t there, he runs to the attic to check there and the big metal door has vanished, it is then when a surprise comes…Syd has received a lovely surprise.
I think this book is a brilliant look at loss. It is subtle, it is beautiful, heartfelt and overall a lovely sentiment on what loss looks like, how even though someone is not physically there, they are always with you.