Grandad's Island

Longlisted for the Picture Book Category of the North Somerset Teachers' Book Award

Book Title: Grandad's Island

Author/Illustrator: Benji Davies

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

ISBN: 978-1471119958

Syd loves spending time with his Grandad and he visits him regularly. On the morning our story begins Grandad has something exciting to share with Syd- a tall ship, an ocean and a very special island. They spend a wonderful time together building a shelter, exploring the island and making animal friends.

When it is finally time to leave, Grandad reveals that he will be staying and Syd will have to make the difficult journey home alone. Syd, without thought for himself, worries that Grandad will be lonely. As they gaze around the island, they realise what a comfortable and friendly place it is, a place where Grandad no longer needs his walking stick to get around and they smile, acknowledging how happy Grandad will be there. Syd makes the long journey home without Grandad and finds life quiet and empty without him. The next morning, however, whilst visiting Grandad’s home, Syd is surprised to receive a rather special letter by toucan post- a reminder to remember Grandad, happy and well back on the island!

This is another beautifully illustrated book by author/illustrator, Benji Davies. Grandad’s Island is a story of both adventure and loss; one that sensitively handles the emotions of saying goodbye to loved ones when they die.

This is a story that can be enjoyed on so many levels- the adventure aspect- travelling and experiencing a desert island; inferring the many emotions conveyed in the changing illustrations- the vibrancy of the island to the greys of the long journey home alone; and the treasured family relationships presented in the story with positive messages about remembering those we love when they pass on.

The story provides a spring board for so many teaching opportunities, exploring what it would be like to live on an island and imagining the vast possibilities for adventures through secret doorways. Readers could think about what they would like to take with them on an island adventure and what they might find on the island when they get there. At the end of the story Grandad writes a letter to Syd and readers could continue the correspondence between the two, sharing both pictures and words, imagining the experiences the characters might have beyond the story and the emotions they may continue to feel.

The book inspires a closer look at island geography, exploring real island habitats and the animals that live there. In science, readers could explore the design of Grandad’s boat, the materials it is made from and the physics of floating and sinking.

Grandad's Island is a real treasure, one that could be enjoyed in both KS1 & KS2 classrooms.