This is a book about a boy named Syd. And if you go through the backyard and past the knotty tree, this is a book about Syd’s Grandad.
He’s a Grandad who has a big metal door in the corner of his attic. A metal door that leads to the deck of a very tall ship. A ship that steers on choppy seas to an island. An island where Grandad leaves his walking stick behind.
That’s the thing with this book. We see the heartache coming. We feel the loss inevitable. And yet, even if you experience this story fresh in life, far from loss—it’s still a lovely sentiment about the way we carry people in our hearts.
These two—white hair under a smile, red hair curled on top—read like the bookends of a life well lived and well loved. I love this small but might design detail in these characters. Very subtly but with a sophisticated sleight of hand, Benji Davies gives us a life cycle.
A now and then and now again.
It’s sweeping in scope, and something Benji Davies does so well is frame his pictures to match. Full bleed illustrations are few and far between, but the scenes he chooses to extend to the pages’ edges are the ones that need the most room to hold their riches.
It’s their home, their shared backyard.
It’s the ship, docked and hopeful.
It’s the island, ready and waiting.
It’s the wonders of it all.
It’s the goodbye.
It’s a hello.
Check it out. You’ll see what I mean.
And like any Candlewick book, it’s printed on gloriously heavy paper and pages that smell like the best kind of story. Always.
GRANDAD’S ISLAND. Copyright (c) 2015 by Benji Davies. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.