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Grandpa Green

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  4,722 ratings  ·  608 reviews
From the creator of the national bestseller It's a Book comes a timeless story of family history, legacy, and love.

Grandpa Green wasn't always a gardener. He was a farmboy and a kid with chickenpox and a soldier and, most of all, an artist. In this captivating new picture book, readers follow Grandpa Green's great-grandson into a garden he created, a fantastic world where
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published August 30th 2011 by Roaring Brook Press
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Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnellI Want My Hat Back by Jon KlassenGrandpa Green by Lane SmithPerfect Square by Michael  HallBlackout by John Rocco
2012 Mock Caldecott
3rd out of 84 books — 179 voters
Miss Rumphius by Barbara CooneyThe Curious Garden by Peter  BrownThe Gardener by Sarah StewartPlanting a Rainbow by Lois EhlertGrandpa Green by Lane Smith
Picture Books About Gardens
5th out of 174 books — 81 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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“He was a boy on a farm and a kid with chickenpox. He was a soldier and a husband, and a gardener, and most of all, an artist.”

I have read many books that were either illustrated or written by Lane Smith and some of my favorite books that were both illustrated and written by Lane Smith was “It’s a Book.” But, I had discovered this new book by Lane Smith called “Grandpa Green,” which was a Caldecott Honor book and it was seriously one of Lane Smith’s most heartwarming books ever written!

The boo
Edward Sullivan
The most stunning children's book about topiary I have ever seen. Edward Scissorhands has got nothing on Grandpa Green!
Steph Sinclair

This is a phenomenal children's book. The illustrations are very well done. A great-grandson tells the story of his great-grandpa's life with the help of drawings of artistically manicured shrubbery. This was very well done and sure to become a favorite among kids and parents alike.
Sep 04, 2011 nicole rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Grandpas
Shelves: picture-books
Maybe I'm wrong and more kids will be drawn into the images than I realize, but I'm having trouble seeing Grandpa Green as anything other than a father's or grandparent's day gift. It's a picture book for adults (which the dump will tell you itself), specifically male adults that like gardening and/or fought in a war. I just don't see the writing itself keeping a child reader entertained. That's okay though. Clearly Lane Smith is well into a point in his career where he can write picture books f ...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I'd much sooner have made this one the Caldecott winner this year that Chris Raschka's book. The story is told by a little boy who can be seen walking through a very unusual garden, and picking up various objects to put in his wagon as he goes. The real story is told by the illustrations, which are shaped like objects and events in the boy's description of his grandfather, the man who created the wonderful garden he is walking through. It took me a few pages to realize that the hedges and bushes ...more
Aug 22, 2011 John rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
Art = 10 stars
Story = 3 stars
I read through this at least four times - and enjoyed it more each time. What a sweet and touching story! There are lots of details to notice and put together - and they come together in such an amazing and awesome way! THIS should have won the Caldecott Medal for this year! Although I'm very glad it at least won a Caldecott Honor - otherwise I might never have known about it and read it.

This is a picture book that works for any age. There are layers here - and great-grandparents can probably ap
Different - as in creative & original. Not a whole lot of humor. The 'adventure' is simply that of Life. The smallest children might only like the art and not want the text at all. That's ok; he can get lost in the art when he uses his imagination. An older child might relate the man in the story to her own grandpa or other older relative, especially if grandpa is developing Alzheimer's, for example. A parent might simply remember his grandpa, or might be inspired to plant a tree.

I must say,
Mar 14, 2012 Dolly rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
I absolutely love this story. The biography of a man told in topiary. The narrative is very sparse and simple, but so much of the story is told within the shapes, characters and creatures in the topiary garden. I love the relationship between the great-grandson and his great-grandfather and how he is aware of the man's past, if only the basic details. I love the warmth and familial ties that are woven throughout the green leaves and branches and it's a story that just makes me smile. We really e ...more
In this mesmerizing picture book of intertwining generations, a great-grandson discovers the details of his Grandpa Green’s life by exploring a most unusual topiary garden. Like a cast of characters on a stage, Grandpa’s leafy green figures are symbolic representations of his life story—chicks hatching from eggs, a bushy cannon and parachuting soldiers; a giant wedding cake topped with a youthful bride and groom. Smith’s mixed media illustrations are both playful and brimming with meaning. In on ...more
11/26/11 What a beautiful book! I love the pen and sponge illustrations, and the story is really cute too.

1/25/14 This is probably the best example of a layered picture book I have ever seen, with three stories in one. You have the rather simple narrative of the boy telling the story of his great-grandfather, all in the text. Then you have the story of the little boy tending and playing in the garden. And then there’s the story told in the topiary garden itself—a legacy left by an old man to his
Darin Nordman
Grandpa Green by Lane Smith

This book seemed more on the sophisticated side. An overall good choice, this book seems to take place in modern day, following a boy who shares stories of his grandfather. The boy told stories of his grandfather at a young age, fighting in the World War, and wanting to study horticulture. It was descriptive in the author's writing as well as the illustrations. Each illustration matched the stories using garden plants. The book was very creative and elaborated on how t
Art is of course fabulous (Lane Smith is a genius), but I think the story is a bit confusing for kids. Will wait a bit, then re-read- maybe it will strike me differently next time. Meanwhile, I'd venture this one is a picture book more for grown-ups- albeit a lovely one.
Grandpa Green was born long ago. He grew up on a farm, got chicken pox in fourth grade, and kissed a girl in middle school. Though he wanted to be a horticulturist, he ended up going to war. There he met his future wife, whom he married when the war ended. Now Grandpa Green is getting old and starting to forget things. But he doesn’t forget the most important things, because the garden keeps his memories for him.

Smith has created an amazing world in the pages of this book. It is a place where a
Crystal Marcos
I was excited when I watched the book trailer for Grandpa Green. The illustrations are wonderful. The combination of brush and waterproof drawing ink, watercolor, oil paint, and digital paint between the characters and the garden were very nicely done. I am not really sure if the prominently green book will appeal to children. In all honesty this book seems like a story for adults. There is one particular illustration that just doesn't seem like it fits in a children's book. The garden looks lik ...more
Lane Smith's quirky humor, some topiaries, and you've got a winner.

A blogger I read said this was a book that was "for adults" so she resented having to purchase it because of the Caldecott Honor (2012). I can see her point, but I also wonder if this book couldn't be used to begin a conversation with a child about why grandpa or grandma, or even mom or dad doesn't always remember. Or can seem to remember things from 40 years ago, but doesn't know the child's name. More and more families have a m
Sandi Rossman
I reviewed this book for the choice category (picture book assignment). This book was a 2012 Caldecott Honor Book.

This deceptively simple story of a boy recounting his great-grandfather's life is really a tribute to a lifetime of a man's memories: growing up on a farm, fighting in a war, marrying, having children, and growing old. Each memory is fueled by imaginary shapes in a topiary garden that leads the boy straight to his target: his great-grandfather.

The visual elements is this book are en
If I look at this book through the eyes of the intended audience, a child, I don't think "Grandpa Green" by Lane Smith succeeds. I could not figure out where this was going. I couldn't figure out who the "he" in the book's opening was: "He was born a really long time ago..." Was it the green, fantasy-like creature portrayed on the first page? Was it the little boy whom we follow through the garden? Nope - it is the boy's grandfather, which is revealed at the very end of the book. Perhaps, this w ...more
Gentle story from an author whose illustrations are usually quirky and humorous, but this time more reflective, and, well, a little bit quirky too. This moving story describes the life of a boy who grows up to be a gifted horticulturalist, and who tells his own story in topiary shrubs. Language is quite simple (Lexile measure is 470), but it is a book best shared with a loving parent or grandparent. Compare to Nana Upstairs, Nana Downstairs and Now One Foot, Now the Other, both by Tomie dePaola. ...more
Shelby Zimmerman
Grandpa Green by Lane Smith is about a boy walking through a garden. It’s a garden representing stories and memories passed down from his grandpa. The illustrations show the memories and figures represented by the shaped trees. The bushes and hedges are shaped like figures, making it possible to understand the story without words.
In Grandpa Green by Lane Smith, the color green is so brilliantly displayed throughout the book, there hasn't been such a powerful defining statement of that hue since Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree. The pages were so beautiful and almost life-like, I was careful to turn each page so as not to "disturb the scenery." How precious is Grandpa Green to recreate all the special memories of his life in topiary form. Couldn't help but think of two very impactful relationships in my life with each o ...more
Katie Fitzgerald
The text has a real sincerity and truth to it, and the story arc is well-executed and ends at just the right moment. I tend to think of books about aging and death as either overly weepy or overly cheesy, but this book strikes just the right balance. I was moved, but not devastated, and though I felt sadness, I also felt a sense of hope and comfort, knowing that Grandpa's life was filled with wonderful memories.

Read my full review on my blog:

Read for #ne
First off, I was so, so THRILLED this won a Caldecott Honor! It definitely deserved it! I was first introduced to this story at the ALA conference and from the moment I read it I realized it was going to be a success. The story was sweet and I can see it appealing to a variety of ages. The illustrations are fantastic and perfectly suite the story! I also love how the greenery helps tell the story. I can see myself coming to this book again and again. Definitely recommend - go out and buy it!

Gabrielle Blockton
Date: October 15th, 2014

Author: Lane Smith (Illustrator)

Title: Grandpa Green

Plot: A great grandchild retells the story of his great-grandfather from the time he was born to the present while maintaining a beautiful green garden with over-the-top landscapes.

Setting: Green Garden

Characters: Unnamed great-grandchild, Grandpa Green

Point-of-Views: Third-Person, First-Person

Theme: Family History

Style: The illustrations include different shades of green; plus the illustrations tells the story abou
Plot Summary

Grandpa Green unwinds the sentiment of its story with every turn of the page. The story tells the tale of a grandfather’s past, as narrated by his great-grandson, while the grandpa’s artistic creations serve as symbolic illustrations depicting meaningful moments in his life. The book centers on a beautiful garden full of shrub topiaries created and shaped, by the grandfather, into symbols of his treasured memories. As the young great-grandson tromps through the garden sculptures, rec
Ashley Gregory
Audience: Boys and girls from grades 1st-3rd or any child that has a special relationship with their grandpa.

Award list: 2012 Caldecott Honor book.

Appeal: I loved this story, probably because I have a special relationship with my papa. The way the bushes described the story was really neat. The part of the story where the pages fold out at the end is unique and probably only for the teacher to do (we don't want any ripped pages). It overall was a sweet and kind-hearted story that made me smile.
Melanie Abril
A grandson tells the story of his great grandfather’s life. Grandpa Green was originally a farm boy, who grew to be a soldier, and then the loving, caring, and creative grandpa that he is in the story. Grandpa Green’s great-grandson tells his story through a series of fantasy-like topiaries. Each turn of the page takes you on a new adventure in the enchanting garden that is Grandpa Green’s life. It is a good family story for exploring the ideas of family history with young children.

The story of
Smith, L. (2011) Grandpa Green. New York, NY: Roaring Brook Press.

Caledcott Honor Book 2012

Choice Book

A charming book about a boy, his great-grandfather and some topiary gardening. A boy tells the story of his great-grandfather’s life through the great-grandfather’s beloved topiary bushes. The creations are very inventive and sometimes funny. His wedding is represented by an extravagant green, leafy wedding cake. A leafy cannon, plane and a parachutist remind him of the world war he served in. T
This book explores the circle of life starting with Grandpa Green and coming full circle with the author (grandchild) Lane Smith. The story tells us all about Grandpa Green’s life from when he was a child growing up to when he was a grandpa.
I like this book a lot for the content as well as the pictures. Lane Smith makes connections in his book to real life situations like getting the chicken pox in 4th grade or going to war after college. Then after talking about his grandpa’s life, the author
Sammie Pedersen
Grandpa Green by Lane Smith was about a grandpa that hedged grass and bushes to remember important parts of his past. I loved this book and personally really connected with it. His grandson was telling the story and describing how grandpa was aging over time. The grandson also mentioned some of the cool things that grandpa had done during his life time and showed the hedges that had been carved to remember that memory. I think it is important to show how influential and wise are grandparents are ...more
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Smith was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but moved to Corona, California at a young age. He spent summers in Tulsa, however, and cites experiences there as inspirations for his work, saying that "[o]nce you've seen a 100-foot cement buffalo on top of a donut-stand (sic) in the middle of nowhere, you're never the same."

He studied art in college at the encouragement of his high school art teacher, helping
More about Lane Smith...
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