Monday, 22 November 2010

Adventures with Grandpa

Adventures with Grandpa by Rosemary Mastnak (hardie grant Egmont)
HB RRP $24.95
ISBN 9781921690761
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

This poignant story is about relationships. It details the special bond formed between the old and the very young; between grandparent and grand child. Told in a simple but deep and meaningful way, it expresses the joys shared by older people and youngsters, and the valuable contribution each one can make to the other’s life.

For the boy, the destination is grandpa’s shed; that sacred, cluttered and complex shelter in which many youngsters learn, discover, and play; that mysterious dwelling full of ’forgotten things, things he wants to save’.

The boy accompanied by his dog, goes in search of grandpa to this private place. ‘It is like a magic cave!’ Each visit is a tactile and sensory journey of discovery, a new adventure. Some smells he recognizes; others are new. Amongst the rubber tyres, empty buckets, old cupboards, plant pots, watering cans, mowers and catchers, and planks of wood, something valuable is hiding.

The tree isn’t just a tree. Tie a rope and add a rubber tyre and a swing for young and old appears. The boy dreams of the next great creation as he looks at the tool box. An old steering wheel and some metal sheeting equals a racing car. The old bath tub can become a sailing craft. An old tin plus umbrella and old iron roofing become a rocket to the moon for ‘the dog, the chook, grandpa and me’. They can battle dragons together, or convert an old basket into a floating balloon. Nothing is impossible for the two mates. Or they can keep swinging until dinner time.

Illustrated in soft, warm watercolours, the full-page pictures are detailed and alive. The text is minimal and large and the grey instead of black print blends well with the fading shades of background colour, but also stands well alone against the white page. You can almost touch the articles on the shelves, pat the dog, or wind the string that hangs from the boy’s arm.

Pictures from inside the book have been reproduced on both front and back covers. They reveal the joy that the two characters share as they revel in each other’s company. Well thought-out and perfectly executed, the illustration are in perfect union with the text and this is one picture book that will be enjoyed over and over again. It comes highly recommended by the reviewer.

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