Grandpa’s Mountain is an intergenerational story about the loving relationship between a boy and a grandfather he knows only through letters. Steven finds his grandfather’s address in some old letters of his parents and seeks his grandfather’s help in convincing his parents to let him go on a Boy Scout outing. Although the grandfather has been estranged from the family and lives far away in Israel, Steven and his grandfather develop a very strong bond through their correspondence and their mutual love of scouting. The story is told through the letters, and later phone calls, of Steven and his grandfather with occasional narrative interludes.
Even though this novel is a touching portrait of a boy’s loving relationship with his grandfather as he comes of age, very little of the story is about Israel. The grandfather describes where he lives and his love for Israel, but there is no real sense of place. The story might have been better if Steven lived in Israel and wrote to his grandfather in America. The readers would then have had more of a feeling for life in a border kibbutz. As the story stands, the reader learns a great deal about scouting and camping in America, but does not learn about Israel.
The ending of the story seemed too predictable, with Steven’s grandfather dying just as Steven was supposed to be meeting him. It seemed unnecessarily maudlin and may put off some children who would otherwise be drawn to the book because of Steven’s camping adventures. Grades 5 – 8; Ages 10 – 14.