Grandpa's big adventure by Paul Newman

cover image

Ill. by Tom Jellett. Penguin, 2016. ISBN 9780670078172
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Grandpas, Swimming, Tall tales, Adventure. The narrator of this delightful story is afraid of the water and cannot swim. Grandpa tells him he must learn to swim if he is have big adventures like his and so takes him to the pool to learn. At the pool Grandpa recounts the tale of his big adventure, where he swam around the world. He tells of how he covered himself with grease, and packed his things in a plastic bag to keep them dry, and took along sweets and tea to eat and drink along the way. He swam all day long, making sure he turned onto his back to avoid one sided sunburn, and slept at night. One day he bumped his head on the equator, another time he had to deal with sharks, and one time he had afternoon tea with the Prince of Whales, and while coming into New York harbour, he was treated gloriously. Grandpa's big adventure encourages the young boy to learn to swim, and Jellett's illustrations show the lad becoming more at ease with the idea of getting into the pool as the story progresses. At first his face reflects his dislike of the water, and as the story is told, he comes closer and closer to the water's edge, donning bathers, goggles, having sun screen lotion applied, then sitting on the edge of the pool before finally getting in. Grandpa's tall story has led the boy to the water.
The story is a delight, dealing with overcoming a child's fear of the water with small steps, Grandpa telling him a wonderful story full of adventure and overcoming adversity.
The humour in both the text and illustrations will resonate with the young readers, and they will have a great deal of fun looking at the range of people at the pool, listening to the word play and mapping Grandpa's swim around the world.
Jellett's illustrations are full of life and humour and I love his depiction of Grandpa in his bathers with a wry look upon his face, talking his grandson into attempting to swim. And I love the use of the end papers to showcase images of Grandpa at various locations around the world. This will have readers looking at a map of the world to work out just where he went. Readers will love the ideas presented in this book, recounting tall tales they have heard from their families, talking about their attempts to learn to swim, and what they do with their grandparents. Close to Father's Day this is a lovely way of including Grandpas as well.
Fran Knight