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Grandpa Green

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  8,149 ratings  ·  885 reviews
A Caldecott Honor Book

From the creator of the national bestseller It's a Book comes a Caldecott Honor-winning 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
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published August 30th 2011 by Roaring Brook Press
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Average rating 4.11  · 
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 ·  8,149 ratings  ·  885 reviews

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This book keeps you guessing what is happening. Is the plant the person the narrator is talking about or is it the little boy? Who’s telling the story? We see all these plants shaped into animals and people in a garden in fantastic ways. It seems the garden is alive and it has all these stories to tell. I don’t want to spoil the ending as it is rather clever the way it gets the point across.

The artwork is creative and the pages feel like they are full of life and growth and curiosity. The story
Edward Sullivan
Aug 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
The most stunning children's book about topiary I have ever seen. Edward Scissorhands has got nothing on Grandpa Green!
Dec 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lane Smith Fans!!!

“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!

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.
May 25, 2011 rated it liked it
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 and I'm curious as to how engaging child readers will find it. That's okay though. Clearly Lane Smith is well into a point in his career where he can write picture books for whomever he likes, regardless of how small the int ...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
Nov 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
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
Mar 21, 2011 rated it liked it
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.
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sweet-petites
The pictures are beautifully done with clever aids to the storytelling that you must seek out.
Oct 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
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
Jan 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Caldecott Honor 2012

This one is so sweet. Told through the eyes of a great-grandson, he tells the life story of his great grandpa. His great grandpa loves horticulture and the illustrations to the story are all done using topiary garden figures. This book subtlety and cleverly expresses love, family, and a generation of life before now, in this heartwarming picture book.
Aug 17, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011
I realized after reading, rereading, and reflecting on Lane Smith's latest book, Grandpa Green, that I’ve spent more time considering (and, at times, being confounded by) Smith’s last two releases than the last two books from pretty much any author. His last outing, It’s a Book, was a genuinely hilarious crowd-pleaser with a catch - an insult punchline featuring a word (jackass) that led to librarians everywhere getting the vapors and wondering where they could hide the thing (my nearby public l ...more
Katie Fitzgerald

This picture book by usual funny guy Lane Smith deviates from his usual fare to tell the touching story of a grandpa and his garden. The story opens with a giant topiary baby, made to look like it's crying. The texture and color of the greenery show us that the baby is a bush, not a person, but the text doesn't tell us who it is meant to portray. Rather, it simply begins, "He was born a really long time ago[.]"

The second page gives us a better idea of what's going on. We meet our narrator, a lit
Crystal Marcos
Jun 30, 2011 rated it liked it
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
May 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
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
Marika Gillis
In honor of Grandparent’s Day, I re-read a favorite Lane Smith picture book, Grandpa Green. Lane Smith is most notable for his illustrations (like the ones in James and the Giant Peach and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs) but he has also written a lot of great picture books, such as John, Paul, George, and Ben and The Happy Hocky Family.

In this book, a great-grandson recalls the events of his horticulture-loving great-grandfather’s life. The simple, straightforward sentences delightfully
Oct 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 01, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Oct 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
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
Sep 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
I loved this! I thought it was so clever how the garden showcases the grandfather's life. I love that while the story is fairly simple, it hints at a rich life filled with joy and sorrow, hobbies, family, love, difficulty and triumph. And the illustrations really are the star of the show in this sweet book. It made me think of my grandpa, who I miss a great deal, and what remains to remember his life (not much that is tangible...mostly just the stories that his descendants remember...and yet his ...more
Ashley Gregory
Jun 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
May 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
The picture book, Grandpa Green, by Lane Smith follows Grandpa Green’s life from a boyhood and beyond through the perspective of his grandson. Through the bonds of family and love, Grandpa Green shares his passion for gardening with his grandson. The illustrations in this book are extraordinary and display important ideas of the circle of life. I was most entranced by the illustrations in the story and how the shrubby evolves throughout the pages. The illustrations are extremely detailed and vib ...more
Grandpa Green provides a sensitive account of a grandfather suffering memory loss, from the perspective of a great-grandchild. It's written very matter of fact - not sentimental. Grandpa had wanted to study horticulture but he went to a world war instead - this must be the story of many. The genius here is Lane Smith's illustrations that reveal Grandpa Green's memories and stories in the foliage of the garden he cares for. A beautiful book for understanding others. ...more
Robin Stevens
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Not many books can make me spontaneously begin to cry in under 30 pages, but this one managed it effortlessly. An utterly lovely book for anyone aged 2 and up. (I recommend adults read it too!)

*Please note: this review is meant as a recommendation only. Please do not use it in any marketing material, online or in print, without asking permission from me first. Thank you!*
Apr 16, 2015 rated it liked it
3.5/5. Lovely illustrations and sweet sentiment, but geared more towards moving the adult reading the book than inspiring the child listening to it. It has not been a popular checkout at my library, though we have tried to promote it and keep it visible. I absolutely adore the concept and wish that it were even a little more engaging for the child because then I could see it being one of my favorites. You should borrow the book from your library and give it a try -- and I hope you have great suc ...more
Canadian Reader
Jan 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: picture-books
While I think children might enjoy looking at how the illustrations carry a great deal of the story, there really isn't much of a story here. I frankly wasn't too impressed. I don't think the book would even have been published if someone other than Lane Smith had created it. This isn't a library purchase I would recommend.
Sep 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Sweet, simple, short story.
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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

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