In Brief: Growing appreciation for the life led by ones grandparents, and the secret burden they've had to bear.
Published in: 1993
Age Range: Pre Teens
- David is a 10-year-old who is forced to spend a week with his grandfather whom he's hardly met, and who discovers a story hidden in his grandfather's house.
- Hannah is the niece of their next-door neighbour with whom David forms an alliance, initially frosty, but warming up later.
- David's Grandad is alone for the first time now that his wife, severely depressed for many years has been buried.
David is resentful at having to spend a week with his grandad after his grandma has died, but discovers a story which his grandfather has kept hidden for many years. Along with Hannah, the girl-next-door, they probe further and further until they discover why David's mother has rarely spoken about her family.
Literary: An accessible book, driven by the thoughts and words of the 10-year-old protagonist and the people he meets.
Family: The story behind the story is one of a family tragedy, one which drove David's grandma into a severe depression, refusing to accept the facts, from which she did not emerge until her death some thirty years later. During all that time her husband looked after her with help from a neighbour. After early unsuccessful attempts to introduce Beatrice to her grandchildren, David's mother and her father agree to keep the families apart except from occasional visits by David's mother alone.
David reluctantly stays with his grandfather as a device by his mother to bring her father out of the stupor in which his wife's death has left him. He is particularly because he had had plans to go camping with his best friend. However, he gradually comes to understand his grandfather better and with that his way of life. Likewise, David's presence bring his grandfather out of himself.
“It's him, isn't it?” said Hanna. “He must be about five in this one. Look at his chubby little hands.”
A round-faced boy with neatly parted, shiny hair, sat proudly in striped tie, and sleeveless grey jumper, grey-sleeved arms folded tightly over his chest, with a book open on the table in front of him.
Hanna turned it upside down. “Look, you can even read the words:
'Play! Play! Play! Play Billy! Billy can play. See Billy play.'
”Wow!“ said Hanna. ”It's really exciting. I wonder how it ended?“
Saturday 6th December 2003