Following Grandfather

Rosemary Wells, Author, Christopher Denise, Illustrator
Rosemary Wells, illus. by Christopher Denise. Candlewick, $14.99 (64p) ISBN 978-0-7636-5069-8
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In a brief, tender story with quiet charm, Wells (On the Blue Comet) celebrates the bond between a mouse and her grandfather, while exploring a child's ability to cope with loss. Wells depicts an enticing society of anthropomorphic mice who live and cavort in tucked-away parts of human habitats. Jenny explains how her grandfather stowed away on a ship sailing from Italy to Boston and opened a restaurant in the attic of an Italian eatery, "featuring daily specials from the kitchen downstairs." After he retires, the loving mouse devotes his time to his granddaughter and encourages her to hold her head high despite her humble status and to embrace life: "Grandfather said hello to the world. I learned to say hello, too, in that way that made the world smile back." Jenny's connection to Grandfather after his death—she repeatedly thinks she sees him, and perhaps finally does—is poignantly conveyed through her ingenuous voice and Denise's (If I Could) filmy halftone illustrations. Avoiding overt sentimentality, Wells's reflections on love and memories are more pensive than somber. Ages 6–9. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. Illustrator's agent: Elena Mechlin, Pippin Properties. (Sept.)
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