Grandpa Green by Lane Smith
Illustrated by Lane Smith
Published by Roaring Brook Press
Caldecott Honor 2012
A great-grandson walks us through a garden of shaped topiary trees as he tell us the life of his great-grandfather. Each topiary tree represents a part of his great-grandfather's life: trees in the shape of roosters (a childhood spent in a farm), the characters from the Wizard of Oz (the stories he read as a child), a tree with red fruits representing the time when he had chicken pox, canons and planes (time spent at the war), the Eiffel tower and a wedding cake (the time when he met the love of his life). As he walks through the stunning gardens, the boy gathers the tools, watering can, glasses, and the floppy straw hat that his great-grandpa has left scattered around. He's old and forgets things, "but the important stuff, the garden remembers for him."
Grandpa Green will steal your heart. This is one of my favorite books of 2011. The illustrations of the topiary garden by Lane Smith are breathtaking. It's a story about family, memories and love. The final two images (the great-grandfather having the boy pose for a new topiary tree of him fighting a dragon, and the boy himself now taking on the garden and making a tree sculpture of his great-grandpa) are just gorgeous. I can't recommend this book enough. It's definitely on my shelf of favorites.