I’m becoming a huge fan of Benji Davies’ bold, bright and mesmerising illustration style, so was really pleased to spot Grandad’s Island, a beautiful picture book by him I hadn’t read yet.
Grandad’s Island is a simple, heart-warming journey from reality to adventure and back again, in the style of Where the Wild Things Are. Except, this story has a lovely little twist right at the end which really caps off the story’s joyous, positive approach.
This story is a deeply emotional one, as it is about a young child called Syd who is dealing with losing his magical grandparent (because grandparents are magical), and this resonates throughout the book, but under the bright, awe-inspiring surface. Davies takes a difficult subject and spins it into a wonderful little adventure, where Syd visits his grandad’s house to find him missing. But, of course, he isn’t missing…he is about to go on a trip to his own amazing, colourful island somewhere across the sea.
And this journey that Syd takes with his grandad to the island, is where the illustrations and not just the story’s words come into their own. The illos are pure gloriousness! Several of the spreads on the island are so full of details and bright colours, it took me aback. And, because of them, children will be transported to the wonderful island.
And there is no need for children to HAVE to read into the story that it is about grief. There are enough levels to the book for it to just feel like a fun adventure with a boy and his grandad. Which is what makes this book so special.