Grandad's Camper

by Harry Woodgate (Author)

Grandad's Camper
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

An effective tool for teaching empathy, and the intergenerational bond at the story's center is a heartstrings puller. This picture book, in which a girl helps her grandfather embrace life again following the death of Gramps, may well aid young readers in understanding others' grief." --Shelf Awareness

Discover a wonderful grandfather-granddaughter relationship, as a little girl hatches the perfect plan to get her Grandad adventuring again. Gramps and Grandad were adventurers. They would surf, climb mountains, and tour the country in their amazing camper. Gramps just made everything extra special. But after Gramps died, Grandad hasn't felt like traveling anymore. So, their amazing granddaughter comes up with a clever plan to fix up the old camper and get Grandad excited to explore again. This beautiful picture book honors love and reminds us not only to remember those we have lost, but to celebrate them.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review
As warm and friendly as a kind grandparent.

Publishers Weekly

A brown-skinned child with shoulder-length curls narrates a story focused on sharing grief and celebrating loved ones' lives in Woodgate's author-illustrator debut. The unnamed protagonist spends every summer at Grandad's seaside cottage, where their favorite activity is listening "as Grandad tells me about all of the amazing places he and Gramps would explore" in a pink camper. Grandad, who is white, relays beachside adventures, city visits, and other trips with brown-skinned Gramps before the narrator comes up with an idea to honor Gramps's memory. Woodgate layers colored pencil, marker, and crayon-esque textures with digital patterns and techniques, making for a kid-friendly style that also spotlights queer iconography, such as rainbow flags and reclaimed inverted pink triangles. If the book focuses more on the grandparents' relationship than the one between Grandad and child, this gentle intergenerational narrative encourages adults to disseminate family stories and traditions. Ages 3-6. (Apr.)

Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

PreS-Gr 2--Before they were Grandad and Gramps, two young men, waving a rainbow flag from their pink VW bus, were a romantic couple, traveling the world--or at least Europe--together, camping under the stars. Grandad, white, and now balding, recounts their adventures to his young grandchild who hangs on every word. The grandchild, with long curls, is Black, as was Gramps, who has passed away. That child is inspired to help Grandad dust off the old camper/bus in the garage, give it a new blue stripe, change a tire, and start out for new adventures. Woodgate's explosively colorful scenes center most of the book on the men, with snapshot after snapshot of their loving life together. That leaves the child's role (and there is no mention of parents, or even that Grandad and Gramps had children) as brackets to the piece, only becoming an active part of the story at the end. Still, there is a wholesome gentility to every page, of enjoying every minute, even in memory, of growing sweet cherries in the garden, and of filling a home with mementos and stories. The book reflects on an aspect of mature gay life, a piercing sense of loss, and in the child, of the possibilities still to be found. VERDICT For the hope for new adventures, and the glimpse of intergenerational kindness and understanding, this lovely book should be on every shelf.--Kimberly Olson Fakih, School Library Journal

Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

This road trip has been a lifetime in the making.

Readers are introduced to a young, brown-skinned, curly-haired protagonist on a visit to their White grandfather's cottage. While there, the protagonist, who narrates, and their grandfather play the usual games and do the usual activities, but Grandad also tells stories about how he and Gramps, a man of color who is now deceased, met and fell in love while traveling in an old VW microbus. Inspired by these tales, the narrator encourages Grandad to fix up the van, and the two take it for a road trip to the beach. This is a quiet story that speaks volumes, and astute educators and storytellers will be able to use the book in both intimate storytimes and with larger groups. Caregivers, especially older ones, may see this book as an opportunity to talk about departed loved ones and introduce their happy memories to a younger generation-many a family will find themselves pulling out photo albums to relate their own origin stories. The artwork is enticing and rich, and readers will be happy to pore over the pages studying details like Grandad's friendly dog and the textured backgrounds as they read and reread the story. This book deserves pride of place on any bookshelf, be it in a library, school, or home. 

Harry Woodgate
Harry Woodgate is a Stonewall Honor award-winning author and illustrator, who was shortlisted for the V&A Illustration Awards 2019 and the Folio Society Book Illustration Competition 2018 and 2019. Grandad's Camper is inspired by their university dissertation, which revealed a lack of representation for older LGBT characters in children's books.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
April 20, 2021
Stonewall Book Award
Honor Book 2022

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