PPBF: Grandad’s Island

The colourful cover of this perfect picture book drew me in, the title intrigued me, and the story mesmerized me. I discovered Grandad’s Island on the NEW shelf at my local library, but it is a book that I will purchase for my home library very soon.

9780763690052_p0_v1_s192x300Title: Grandad’s Island

Written & Illustrated By: Benji Davies

Publisher/date: Candlewick Press, 2016

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: Loss, death, grandparent, travel, tropical islands

Opening: “At the bottom of Syd’s backyard, through the gate and past the tree, was Grandad’s house. There was a key under a flowerpot, and Syd could let himself in anytime he liked.”

Brief Synopsis: A boy and his grandfather journey by ship to a tropical island, which we explore together and which Grandad comes to call “home.”

Links to Resources:

  • If possible, go for a boat ride – what do you see? How does it feel to float on the river, lake or ocean?
  • Prepare for a real or pretend journey: look at a map – where will you go? What will you bring to wear, eat or use while you are there?
  • Write a letter or draw a picture to let a loved one know you are ok and that you love her or him.

Why I Like this Book: Benji Davies lives in London, one of my old haunts, and this book was published there first (Simon & Schuster, 2015). When I opened the book to find a child in red jumper (ie, pullover) and gray shorts scampering through a walled garden surrounded by row houses, I felt like I’d journeyed back to my old north London neighbourhood. Given that England is home to a nanny who floats from the sky with an umbrella, a boy who never grows old, and a boy who passes through a brick wall with his school mates to a train (among many other endearing characters), a ship on the roof seems only natural as does the journey in that ship to a tropical island.

Primarily an illustrator, including of Tara Lazar’s I Thought This was a Bear Book (Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, 2015), Mr. Davies creates an island paradise that anyone would want to visit and live in. He provides many visual clues showing that Grandad, whose choice it is to visit the island with his grandson, is happier and healthier once they arrive. Spoiler alert: grandson and Grandad part ways, but the knowledge that Grandad is in a better place and the ties they continue to share provide hope.

This is a wonderful and comforting book for anyone separated from a loved one, due to moving or death, or concerned about the happiness of an elderly relative or friend. For me it was made more poignant by the knowledge that Grandad is based on Mr. Davies’ own grandfather, with whom he corresponded via letters.


This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

16 responses to “PPBF: Grandad’s Island

  1. Yay! A book by Benji Davies. He’s one of my favorite writers and illustrators. I’m anxious to check out this book and can’t believe I didn’t know about it. Thank you for posting!

    • I didn’t know it either before I found it in the library, although I’d seen his illustration work. Given the other books you’ve featured, I know you’ll love this one.

  2. I interviewed Benji when this was a WIP and have so been looking forward to it coming out. I LOVE his art.

  3. books4learning

    You have intrigued me on this one. Sounds amazing. I plan to look for it at the library. Thanks.

  4. I love intergenerational stories about children and grandparents! I’m curious to read it because I look for good grief books — and this doesn’t quite sound like one. You’ve peaked my interest! Nice choice.

  5. I’m going to look for this one too!

  6. Count me among the intrigued. Everyone has an island, I’m guessing. On the list to find!

  7. That cover is a keeper, as my mom would have said. Will have to check this one out. Thanks for the heads up!

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