Grandpa's Tractor

Michael Garland, Boyds Mills, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-59078-762-5
Garland's (the Miss Smith series) nostalgic tale first sounds a melancholy note, as Grandpa drives Timmy to see Grandpa's childhood home, a dilapidated farmhouse beside a ramshackle barn, incongruously situated at the edge of a sterile housing development. Explaining that this was once "a beautiful place... just open fields and pastures for the cows," Grandpa shows Timmy a cherished childhood relic: the grandparent's father's rusted tractor, which now has saplings sprouting from the engine. Grandpa's tone brightens as the story leaps back to a time when his father drove the shiny red tractor to perform important jobs throughout the seasons—with a young Grandpa along for the ride. Dominated by bright reds, golds, and greens, Garland's glossy digital art lets the tractor pop from the page. The illustrations underscore the dramatic changes between the past and present landscapes, while conveying a reassuring sense of continuity: aged Grandpa looks much like his father, Timmy strongly resembles young Grandpa, and the affection between both pairs is palpable. However, the abrupt ending ("I never knew tractors were so important," says Timmy) is a letdown. Ages 2–6. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/2011
Release date: 04/01/2011
Genre: Children's
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