cover image Where Is Grandpa?

Where Is Grandpa?

T. A. Barron. Philomel Books, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-23037-0

Barron's (The Lost Years of Merlin) debut picture book, which the flap copy describes as autobiographical, offers a humanist response to death and grieving. On the day that Grandpa dies, a boy listens as his sister, brother and parents share memories of this generous, dynamic man. But he can't bring himself to join in, despite his own fond memories of spending time with Grandpa in the tree house Grandpa had built overlooking the Rockies. At last, the boy asks, ""Can anybody tell me... Where is Grandpa now?"" Fumbling for a definition of heaven, the father concludes, ""Maybe you could say that heaven is any place where people who love each other have shared some time together."" Kids may need some help fleshing out this concept, even as the child recalls the wonderful spots he and Grandpa had visited together. Thinking of his grandfather ""in all of those places"" frees the boy to return to them and, presumably, to carry on with a life that Grandpa has greatly enriched. Depicting stagily lit daytime scenes, electrically hued sunsets and starry nights, Soentpiet's (More Than Anything Else) watercolor tableaux amplify--and perhaps exaggerate--both the natural theater of the majestic mountain setting and the human drama of Barron's graceful story. A useful springboard for dialogue between bereaved adults and children. Ages 4-8. (Jan.)