Friday, 3 July 2015

ReadItDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 3rd July 2015 - "Grandad's Island" by Benji Davies (Simon and Schuster Children's Books)

Grandad's Island

Written and Illustrated by
Benji Davies

Published by Simon and Schuster Children's Books

We just couldn't separate our two "Book of the Week" winners this week, two utterly fantastic books arriving in the same week so you've already read our review of the fantastic "Max" - now it's time to delve into the latest book from Benji Davies, illustrative and storytelling genius behind fabulous books like 'The Storm Whale' and working in conjunction with other writers to illustrate fabulous stories like "The Giant of Jum" (With Elli Woollard) and "On Sudden Hill" (with Linda Sarah).

No stranger to our book of the week slot, Benji's latest tale caused such a lot of debate and discussion at home that we are STILL talking about it weeks on from when we first laid eyes on it.

"Grandad's Island" is the fantastical tale of a young boy who regularly pops round to his Grandad's house for visits and cake. When Grandad seems to have gone missing one morning, the boy hears a shout from the attic - and finds Grandad standing in front of a mysterious metal door. The door glows faintly, and Grandad opens it gently and ushers the boy inside.

They find themselves on the deck of a ship, jutting out amongst the rooftops and soon they set sail for a spectacular tropical destination, Grandad's Island.

Such a beautiful, beautiful book, we want to live in it!

The island paradise is full of the most wonderful creatures, sights, sounds and colours and the boy and his Grandad swiftly set about building the most amazing Swiss Family Robinson-esque shelter.

It's a fine adventure but as the day draws to a close, Grandad has some sad news. He won't be coming home with the boy, he's staying on the island for good.

With a heavy heart, the boy boards the boat home (ably assisted by some of the wonderful creatures he's met). Grandad's place isn't quite the same without him, and the mysterious metal door is no longer there - but wait, what's this? A letter? Who is it from?

Charlotte set straight to work analysing this story and we discussed it at length. Was "Grandad Island" actually Heaven? Was it a fantasy, the boy's way of coping with the loss of a loved one? Would Grandad come back for visits? We were so swept away and wrapped up in this tale that it made us think again about Great Nan - our own dear Nan who died back in January and who we often talk about 'watching over us' as she always joked that she'd be reincarnated as a Robin - and we always see Robins whenever we're on a day out somewhere, as if she's still there with us.

It has been interesting seeing the book discussed on Twitter by other reviewers and booky folk too. Some have pointed out that children could just accept it as a straightforward adventure (though the lack of "Grandad" at the end of the book makes us question this - is he still on his island? Would he not come back for visits?)

Analyse it as much as you want, but everyone will come away with happy feelings and stirred-up memories from this glorious story. Benji Davies is on FIRE at the moment, with each and every book release that he's a part of we always wonder if he can possibly keep up such a high standard of fabulous storytelling and sumptuous artwork. So far he's knocking it out of the park in both respects.

If the intention was to produce an utterly gorgeous, heartwarming and touching book that would be like a soothing balm to anyone who's lost a loved one then it works beautifully that way. Like Syd in the story, we loved the idea that those who are dear to us are on their own "Island", in their own paradise and also constantly exist in our hearts and our memories.

Charlotte's best bit: A lovely cameo from The Storm Whale and his mum, watch out for it!

Daddy's Favourite bit: Sumptuously written and illustrated, Benji expertly deals with a tough subject in a thought-provoking and sensitive way, utterly wonderful. Consistently one of the brightest and most important talents working in children's literature today.

(Kindly sent to us for review by Simon and Schuster Children's Books)

Like this? We think you'll love these too!

"The Storm Whale" by Benji Davies.
"On Sudden Hill" by Linda Sarah and Benji Davies
"The Giant of Jum" By Elli Woollard and Benji Davies