Big Papa and the Time Machine

Daniel Bernstrom, illus. by Shane W. Evans. HarperCollins, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-246331-9
Big Papa takes his grandchild back in time to see what bravery looks like in this tender story by Bernstrom (Gator, Gator, Gator!). School-shy, the baseball cap–wearing grandchild admits, “I’m scared I’ll miss you.” Big Papa’s majestic vintage auto takes them into the past—Chicago and Little Rock, Ark., to moments in the 1940s–1980s. In 1952, they see a lady holding a young man “tighter than tight.” “Big Papa? That you?” his grandchild says, “You left your mama!” “Yes,” Big Papa says. He was afraid, “but sometimes you gotta lose the life you have if you ever gonna find the one you want.” Evans (Hands Up!) draws Big Papa at the wheel, a large, reassuring presence, as his grandchild gazes out at the past. Wide angles give the spreads visual power, while soft pastels convey the journey’s otherworldly atmosphere and the stories’ intimacy. When the grandchild sees a grown man snatch a paper out of young Big Papa’s hands in 1941—“See this cotton, and see that field?” the man tells young Big Papa. “Look at it. This is your school”—the grandchild understands why his grandfather thinks school is so important, and sees how it’s possible to be simultaneously scared and brave. Ages 4–8. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 10/24/2019
Release date: 01/14/2020
Genre: Children's
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