Amy Hest and Helen Oxenbury are back with When Charley Met Grandpa is the follow up to the charmingly cozy Charley's First Night, which tells the snowy story of Henry's first night with his new puppy, Charley. Like Oxenbury's illustrations, Hest's story is gentle and uncomplicated, evoking the perspective of a young child in the telling. Still snowy, When Charley Met Grandpa begins with Henry sending a letter to Grandpa telling him about Charley and asking when he is going to come visit. Henry writes, "Bring a big suitcase and stay a long time and I'll meet you at the station. My coat has a hood. Look for a boy waving, that's me."
Grandpa writes back saying that he will be there on Sunday, adding, "Now, about that dog. Is he friendly or fierce? I've never been friends with a dog before. I'll do my best, but no promises." Added to the story are Hest's interpretation of dog speak, with a tail up in the air code for, "I know the way to the station," and a head held tall code for, "I know the way home!"
When Grandpa loses his green cap in a gust of wind and Charley slips off to rescue it, their friendship is cemented. That night, Charley jumps onto Grandpa's bed where he looks into Grandpa's eyes and Grandpa looks back, which is code for, "I love you, I love you, I love you." The final page of When Charley Met Grandpa reads, "They both fell asleep. And Grandpa snored wild."
It's little touches like this, like Grandpa snoring wild, that subtly raise Hest's story above the fray and remind me just how satisfying (and challenging) a well crafted text in a picture book can be - especially when paired perfectly with illustrations that enhance and expand the world that the author has created.
Helen Oxenbury also illustrated these classic picture books that every kid should own!
Source: Review Copy