Grandad’s Island – a moving allegory on the death of a grandparent

Benji Davies, Grandad’s Island

Published 2015 by Simon & Schuster UK, 32p


Benji Davies surely knows how to illustrate the connection between father and son or the special bonding between grandfather and grandchild.

I appreciated the subtlety and the intelligence in this beautiful story. It deals with death although it is never mentioned and probably this is the finest way to introduce the notion to children and explain death as permanent absence.

the jungle

This is the story of little Syd and his Grandad. There was a key under a pot and Syd could let himself in Grandad’s house any time he wanted. One day, for the first time, Grandad took Syd in the attic of his house.

It was full of old boxes and things that Grandad had collected from around the world.

Grandad showed Syd a big metal door which led to the deck of a big ship. The two sailed to an exotic island, the most perfect place. Together they discovered the wonders of the jungle, built a shelter and took a refreshing swim below a beautiful waterfall. When it was time to return, Grandad told Syd he would remain on the island. Hugging for the last time, they waved goodbye and Syd returned home in a journey that seemed much longer than the one he had had with Grandad.

good bye


The next day when Syd returned to Grandad’s house the metal door wasn’t there anymore. A bird came, tapped at the attic window and gave Syd an envelope. It was a postcard with his Grandad enjoying the life on the island.

As grownups we definitely feel the inevitable from the beginning of the book; instead, for children it will be a special journey, an adventure on a colourful, exotic island. All the radiant colours and the amazing animals will fascinate the little ones and comfort them on the idea of Grandad’s absence.

Deepen the theme of death with a tender story on losing a parent.


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