Flatiron Books: The Guest Book by Sarah Blake

Grandpa's Stories: A Book of Remembering

Employing his poetry skills in a narrative picture book, Joseph Coelho (A Year of Nature Poems) tells the moving story of a young girl's loss of her Indian grandfather and the memories that help her heal. Coelho's lyrical text walks the reader through a year of seasons, each of which previously was marked by its own special, loving grandfather and granddaughter activity. The little girl recalls the joy of fixing a secondhand racing track and driving her imagination into the stars: "We use our hands to zoom the cars up and down,/ up and down,/ up, up, up/ and fire them off/ into deep space." She warms the chill of loss with the memory of a handmade journal: "Grandpa gives me a rainbow pencil./ 'Write and draw,/ write and draw/ all your dreams.' " These reminders of joyful times spent together help her cope with his loss. "If all the world were memories," her first-person narration states, "the past would be rooms I could visit,/ and in each room would be my grandpa."

Illustrator Allison Colpoys (Captain Starfish) adds a second layer to the narrative with brilliant colors, strong brush strokes and charming depictions of freckled child and mustachioed grandfather. The bold pinks, bright blues and sunny yellows project happiness and the power of positive memories, while intermittent abstract spreads make tangible the little girl's loss and her nostalgia for time spent with Grandpa. The overall beauty of this collaboration comes as close to the majesty of a child's adoration for a grandparent as feels possible. Heartwarming, heartbreaking and inspiring, Grandpa's Stories is a must for every child's library. --Jen Forbus, freelancer