Lane Smith illustrates how memories define and keep us alive in a touching story about aging, family and love

Lane Smith, Grandpa Green

Published 2011 by Roaring Brook Press, 32p


Grandpa Green is that kind of book that uses few words but leaves deep traces in your memory and your soul. Yes, memory is often deceitful and mysterious but it definitely keeps us alive and preserves our identity.

A young boy recounts the story of his grandpa who used to be a little boy himself but who is now pretty old and experiences memory loss problems. Heartwarming, using amazing visual messages, Smith manages to capture the profound connections between young and old generations, the special relationship a great-grandson has with his great- grandfather.


Grandpa wanted to study horticulture but soon after graduating high school he had to go to a world war, so, now, his great-grandson pays a tribute to his dream, symbolically telling his story by using a topiary theme.

Grandpa was born at a farm before television and cell-phones were used, he loved the stories about secret gardens and wizards and he had chicken pox in fourth grade. Then the beautiful trees and bushes tell us how Grandpa found his love in a café in Paris, married and had kids, grandkids and a great-grandkid.

chicken pox.jpg



The little boy loves and admires his Grandpa who can now nurture his artistic talent; and when Grandpa forgets things both the boy and the garden are there to help. More than that, the kid’s acceptance to be an assistant is a valuable sign that the bridge between generations has harmoniously and unconditionally been created.


Complement Grandpa Green with Cecilia Ruiz’s The Book of Memory Gaps, a poetic meditation on the fragility of our memory.

Illustrations courtesy of Lane Smith.

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