cover image When Grandfather Flew

When Grandfather Flew

Patricia MacLachlan, illus. by Chris Sheban. Holiday House/Porter, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8234-4489-2

In this elegiac story about love and loss, a youngest grandchild becomes his grandfather’s eyes when the older man begins to lose his sight. Milo is “not a talker,” explains his older sister Emma, who narrates, but he pays attention when Grandpa catalogs the birds he loves, the bald eagle chief among them: “The eagle sees the full sky, he sees the world!” Grandpa says. In loose watercolor, pastel, and graphite art, Sheban (Three Squeezes) captures the grace and power of the birds Grandpa admires, and conveys the grandeur of the rural landscape that the family occupies. When Grandpa’s sight becomes more limited, Milo turns out to have been listening carefully. “What’s that bird?” asks Grandpa. “I can hear him in the fruit trees, but I can’t see him.” “Cedar waxwing,” Milo promptly replies. And it’s Milo who helps his family understand what has happened when his grandfather isn’t there anymore. MacLachlan (Wondrous Rex) creates deeply sympathetic characters in a few sentences, and invites readers to share in the lives of a family nurtured by the natural world—and comforted by it in their grief. Ages 4–8. (July)