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Children's Literature Reviews
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Grandad Bill's song
Jane Yolen ; illustrated by Melissa Bay Mathis.
New York : Philomel Books, c1994.
1 v. (unpaged) : col. ill. ; 28 cm.


A boy asks others how they felt when his grandfather died and then shares his own feelings.

Best Books:

Kirkus Book Review Stars, 1994 ; United States
Teachers' Choices, 1995 ; International Reading Association; United States

State and Provincial Reading Lists:

MRA Reader's Choice Award, 1997 ; Nominee; Grades Pre-K - 2; Michigan

Reading Measurement Programs:

Accelerated Reader
Interest Level Lower Grade
Book Level 2.4
Accelerated Reader Points 0.5

Lexile, MetaMetrics, Inc.
Adult Directed
Lexile Measure 480

Reading Counts-Scholastic
Interest Level K-2
Reading Level 2
Title Point Value 1
Lexile Measure AD 480


Kathryn Broderick (Booklist, July 1994 (Vol. 90, No. 21))
In a rhymed poem containing dialogue, Yolen tells the story of a small child dealing with his grandfather's death. The child asks members of his family about how they felt when Grandad died. Each remembers a different side of the man in a distinctively personal way. Grandma, for example, remembers the young sailor she fell in love with, and Uncle Steve, the strong father who could do anything. The child's questions are answered in a forthright way that helps him validate his feelings. Mathis' drawings show the present in black-and-white on a neutral brown backgroundon one page of a double-page spread, the child and a family member examine an old photo album; on the other, snapshots from the photo album are reproduced. In contrast, the family's memories of Grandad Bill are illustrated in glowing full-color. The thoughtful, quiet structure of this picture book addresses feelings of sadness, anger, denial, and finally acceptance, and is particularly appropriate for a child experiencing the death of a loved one for the first time. Category: For the Young. 1994, Putnam/Philomel, $14.95. Ages 5-7.

Marilyn Bagel (Children's Literature)
What did you do on the day Grandad died?" asks the little boy Jon as he struggles with his own loss. The answers he gets from Grandma, Uncle Steve, Mama, Mr. Temple, Great Aunt Rose, and Daddy help paint a full and vivid portrait of the life of his beloved grandfather. The book's soothing cadences by award-winning author Jane Yolen, accompanied by Melissa Bay Mathis's soft pastel illustrations, offers comfort to children who have lost a loved one and are trying to express their feelings. When Dad asks Jon what he did, on that fateful day he can finally start coming to terms with his loss. The sensitive use of drawings presented as photographs gives the feel of a family scrapbook, which makes the experience very real. 1994, Philomel, $14.95. Ages 4 up.

Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, 1994)
Jon asks a question of the others who were close to Grandad too: "What did you do on the day Grandad died?" In adroitly phrased verse, Yolen offers their varied responses and treasured memories: Grandma wept and remembered the man she married; Uncle Steve thought of the strong young father who could do anything; Mama lied to herself ("My daddy's not dead"); old friend Sam Temple remembers a lifetime of sharing; Great Aunt Rose "died along with him...he was my childhood.... [but] Nothing really ends." Last, Dad helps Jon sort through his own mixed feelings. Mathis creates illustrations in three harmonizing techniques, depicting photos of times past in black and white, Jon and his relatives in highlighted taupe and charcoal, and their most vivid memories in vibrant colors that signify their continuing power. An unusually sensitive and carefully wrought evocation of the impact of a death on a loving family. 1994, Philomel, $14.95. Starred Review. © 1994 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
Verse (often verging on doggerel) conveys this forced narrative about a boy who asks members of his family, ``What did you do on the day Grandad died?'' Mama, for example, responds, ``I looked in the mirror, and then, son, I lied. / I said to myself that my daddy's not dead. / But the mirror looked back at me, shaking its head.'' Meanwhile, the boy's grandmother remembers ``your grandaddy Billy'' as a young sailor, an uncle recalls a strong father, a great-aunt a baby brother. When the boy's father turns the question on the boy himself, the boy's anger at the loss emerges: ``So you were mad,'' says the father; ``I should have been sad,'' his son responds. The resonance of, for example, When I Die, Will I Get Better? is absent here, with almost saccharine formulas in the place of emotional truths. The elegiac tone lightens a bit in Mathis's full-color spreads, which show a memory in the making. These are interspersed with the family-album pen-and-ink repros on sad tan pages. Ages 4-8. (May)


Stories in rhyme.
LanguageCall NumberLCCNDewey DecimalISBN/ISSN
English (eng) PZ8.3.Y76 Gr 1994
92026199 [E]
0399218025 : $14.95 ($19.50 Can.)
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