In my last post I reviewed books about children learning the stories and traditions of their elders. Now I want to share Grandpa’s Tractor, written by a favorite illustrator and writer, Michael Garland. His illustrations are bold, colorful, lively and spellbinding. Each picture could stand alone. As I sit and gaze at his first picture of Grandpa on his red tractor in a field at sunset, I can feel the strange stickiness that clings to the grass as it cools at the end of the day, and hear the crickets begin their nightly song. Children will delight in Grandpa’s story, and adults will reminisce about a time long ago.
Grandpa Joe and Timmy are on their way to visit the old farm where Grandpa Joe grew up. Although the boarded-up farmhouse has been sold long ago, there was something special Grandpa Joe wanted to show Joey — a tractor that sat rusting in the tall weeds. The site of the tractor floods Grandpa Joe with memories of when he was a boy and the tractor was new and bright red. He takes Timmy on an imaginative journey about his life on the farm. Grandpa remembers sitting on his dad’s lap and steering the tractor as they plowed the fields to plant corn or alfalfa to feed the cows. Grandpa shows how the tractor is the center of farm life as we pass through the seasons from planting, to harvesting, to hauling firewood for the winter and cutting down the perfect pine tree for Christmas.
Garland’s inspiration for Grandpa’s Tractor, came from an old rusty tractor near his home. He passed the tractor for years before he began to imagine “a farmer getting off that tractor fifty years ago, and never getting back on.” One day he knocked on the door of the farmhouse and met the farmer who had owned the tractor. The farmer was happy to share the legacy of his tractor and life on the farm.
Garland’s books speak to children. He is a versatile author and illustrator of many popular books including his latest Miss Smith Under the Ocean, Miss Smith’s Incredible Storybook, Miss Smith and the Haunted Library, The Fourth of July, Snow Day, Christmas City, The Mouse Before Christmas, King Puck, Mystery Mansion and Last Night at the Zoo. He has a new release coming out Sept. 1, Oh, What a Christmas.