Values: Love, Compassion, Empathy, Consideration and Hope.
Tibble and Grandpa is on the UKLA longlist for the 3-6 category for 2021... and I think it will end up on the shortlist too! As soon as I started reading, I knew I had something special in my hands.
In this emotive book, Tibble is worried about Grandpa who is very quiet and isn't speaking much. Tibble tries different strategies to get through to Grandpa, and manages to engage him in a game of ' What are your top three...?' and eventually Grandpa begins replying and having fun with Tibble. They eat sandwiches together, discuss their three favourite jellyfish, play with Tibble's Top Three Trains and the next day, to Tibble's surprise, Grandpa asks him what his top three days out would be... and off they go together! As if this story isn't heart-warming enough by this point, the reader sees Tibble ask Grandpa what his Top Three Grannies are - and we learn that Granny has died. Grandpa recalls his favourite memories with Granny and the two reflect on this together.
Tibble and Grandpa is a beautifully sensitive and tear-jerking book that everyone can relate to. It conveys the complexities of grief in a very accessible way for young children, and the relationship between Tibble and Grandpa feels very authentic. I can imagine many young children being able to relate to seeing an adult in their life feel upset and trying to help cheer them up. The poignant memories of Granny would provide an excellent talking point for remembering those who are missed.
The first Value I would explore with children is love. You can see the love between Grandpa and Tibble as Tibble tries his best to cheer Grandpa up. Tibble is saddened by Grandpa's grief and shows his compassionate side by sitting quietly next to him, talking, making Grandpa's top three sandwiches and doing his best to keep him company. The end of the book shows Grandpa's love for Granny in that he recalls the fond memories he has of Granny and what she meant to him. We also see Grandpa tell Tibble that Granny's favourite star was him - uncovering another loving relationship to discuss. It would be a great starting point to discuss love in different families and intergenerational love. It could also be a good book to talk about remembering those we have lost who loved us, and how grief can be an expression of love.
I would also explore the Values of empathy and consideration with children. Tibble shows great empathy and consideration when he is talking to Grandpa - trying to cheer him up, but understanding when Grandpa needs time and space. He is able to ask sensitively about Granny to allow Grandpa to open up, but does this in a kind and patient manner. You could talk with children about times when they have had to be kind and patient with others; maybe friends are feeling upset or people at home are feeling down and it takes kindness and compassion to understand this.
We can also see the Value of hope running throughout this book. Grandpa feels introspective and full of sadness at the start of the book. As Tibble cheers him up, we see Grandpa beginning to realise he can still enjoy doing things without Granny being there, and this brings him hope for the future. Tibble also realises Grandpa needs time and space, but that he will laugh and have fun again too when he is ready. Questions I might address would be: What does hope mean? Do you always have to experience something bad for there to be hope? What form does hope take when someone feels down? How can you help inspire hope in others?
Overall, I think this is a stunning book and will add value to any Values bookshelf for years to come. It was emotional as an adult to read it as it has real integrity, and I believe children could relate to a book like this. It allows big themes such as loss, grief, sadness to be explored in a safe and positive way. Sometimes adults underestimate children's ability to cope with abstract concepts, but I think children are very observant, articulate and sensitive and I feel that Wendy Meddour has written a book that will allow children to respond in this way. Daniel Egneus's illustrations are also powerful and the eyes and posture of the characters accurately convey emotions. I also love how they are a combination of collage-techniques and child-like sketching. When we see Granny as a young lady on the page above, we realise how many years of memories Grandpa must have of her.
If you would like to get your own copy, you can through Blackwell's - they are a fantastic bookseller! You can follow the author, Wendy Meddour, on Twitter too: @WendyMeddour . I will be rooting for Tibble and Grandpa in the UKLA Book Awards!
You can find other books that hold similar Values on my blog by clicking on these hashtags: