Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"He was born a really long time ago,

before computers or cell phones or television."  So begins Lane Smith's nature narrative, Grandpa Green.  Grandpa's life is told in simple sentences supported by bushes trimmed to resemble things like the time he got the chicken pox (a puny looking boy-shaped bush with red berries), or how he met Grandma in Paris (cue Eiffel tower topiary and a lady with a teacup). 

It isn't until the second to last page that the reader actually gets to see the narrator helping a grown-up Grandpa in the garden.  The truly magnificent part of the story happens when the last pages fold out to show each bush that Grandpa has trimmed over his lifetime.   His garden acts as an horticultural heirloom so that even though he "forgets things like his favorite floppy straw hat, the garden remembers for him."

Smith's lush story honors "the greatest generation" and will likely appeal to parents who recognize their grandparents in the character of Grandpa and want to share his story with their own children.  It may also bring comfort to those families struggling with "remembering" for an elderly family member and put memory-loss into context for young children.

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