I missed seeing this book in 2021, so I’m here to give it some love right now.
The end papers show the “before time.”
And then the first spread returns us to the present.
A child visits a grandparent who’s lost his spouse. The child and grandparent play and then Grandad opens a photo album and tells stories about Gramps, the person he loved and has recently lost. His memories feature all of the adventures they had together, traveling in a camper van, and as the child listens, they wonder why Grandad doesn’t do this anymore. When Grandad sadly says that he lost the spark to travel when Gramps died, the child comes up with a wonderful plan that not only pays tribute to those memories, but makes new ones of their own.
A beautiful book that shows how losing a partner or spouse in life includes all couples, no matter their gender. And I purposefully use a non-gender specific pronoun for the child, because I think the illustration can be interpreted fluidly.
Make a 2D origami camper van
Ask a grandparent about their memories of things they used to do, but do no longer. If there’s an activity that they used to enjoy, ask them why they stopped, and maybe you can get them excited about doing it again. Bonus points if you can do it with them!
Make a list of the places you’ve traveled. They don’t have to be far away. Do you have a favorite memory from one of those places you’d like to share? Write the story of your memory, and share it with a parent or grandparent or with your teacher at school.
Research a national park, and make up a story about traveling there in a camper van. What sights might you see along the way? What activities would you do in that park? Fill your story with details. Would it be cold there, or hot? What sounds might you hear? What animals might you see? What might you smell? What would you take with you in your camper van? What would you cook over a campfire?
Title: Grandad’s Camper
Author/Illustrator: Harry Woodgate
Publisher: Little Bee Books, 2021
Ages: Pre-K through elementary school
Themes: memories, grief, travel
For more perfect picture book recommendations, please visit Susanna Hill’s website.
12 thoughts on “Grandad’s Camper – Perfect Picture Book Friday”
Loving the illustrations and the VW bus.
It has that retro vibe, doesn’t it? My husband spent his childhood camping with his family in a VW Bus.
I came so close to buying a cherry red convertible VW Bug. I definitely appreciate VWs.
What a beautiful story and I love the idea of going through a photo album together!
My nieces and nephews all loved sitting with their grandparents (my parents) and going through old photo albums. They’re a bit like picture books, only the words don’t come from the page, they come from the speaker’s heart.
That’s a beautiful way to say it!
I always wanted one of those campers, but it wasn’t in the cards for me! Will be looking for this one!
Me, too. We have friends who have a pop-up, and they get a lot of use out of it. Cheers!
Sounds like such a lovely book, Jilanne!
It’s got a heart as big as a VW camper! 🥰
I need to get a copy of this book for some family members. This is so upbeat and positive. Love the idea of remembering through photos.
Yes, when my son was small, we handmade small “adventure” albums for his grandparents. When they were together, they could go “read” them, and then they’d go through other family albums. He really loved doing that. And now that both sets of grandparents have passed on, all of the handmade albums we gave them are now ours. Really great memories!