A relationship between a grandparent and grandchild is special and rare; no other bond in life is quite the same. But what happens when a grandparent dies before a child has had the opportunity to experience this extraordinarily loving connection? Some children acutely feel the loss, the empty space in life where that grandparent should have been. This sensitively written picture book, illustrated in gentle color, shows how such a gap can be bridged through the sharing of stories and memories and through the use of pictures and mementos if it is done with love.
David tells his Bubbie that he is very sad that his grandfather has died before he was born and Bubbie, although herself emotional about it, is a very smart woman and she knows just what to do. She knows that she can help David accept this loss and she also understands that children learn most effectively when all their senses are engaged. Bubbie goes into action. She cooks Grandpa’s favorite foods for David so he can see, taste and smell them and he learns something about his grandfather from this meal. Then she takes Grandpa’s favorite book off the shelf so David can see it, feel it, and look forward to reading it and he finds that he now knows more about Grandpa. She shows him pictures which spark stories filled with memories and she points out how the people in the pictures have changed and how the neighborhood has, too, so that David understands that change can be gradual but natural. Bubbie tell David some of Grandpa’s favorite jokes and David laughs, proving to him that conversations about people who have died can include laughter as well as tears. Finally, Bubbie pulls out a warm, colorful quilt made from lots of things that Grandpa used during his long, eventful life and while she and David snuggle under the quilt, she reminds David that he carries on his grandfather’s name. More family members arrive and surround Grandma and David with warmth and love. Grandpa may not be in the room with them, but, in some ways, it seems that he is, and David no longer feels that he doesn’t know his grandfather.
This is a wonderful book for families, teachers and a variety of other professionals to use with children mourning the loss of a family member. It shows a healthy, wholesome approach to loss and moving forward and is highly recommended for ages 4 – 8.
Michal Hoschander Malen is the editor of Jewish Book Council’s young adult and children’s book reviews. She has lectured on a variety of topics relating to children and books and her greatest joy is reading to her grandchildren on both sides of the ocean. Michal lives in Great Neck, NY and Efrat, Israel.