Author: Jane Yolen
Illustrator: Melissa Bay Mathis
Publisher and Year: Putnam & Gosset Group, 1994
Number of pages: 29
Genre: Non-fiction, Poetry
Descriptive Annotation: A little boy, Jon, asks several family members what they did on the day Grandad died. They begin sharing their favorite memories of Grandad Bill. Jon’s grandmother remembers her husband as her handsome young sailor. Jon’s uncle recalls his father as strong. Jon’s Great Aunt Rose remembers her brother as her best friend. Jon is surprised by his family members’ responses because he has different memories of his Grandad, as well as different emotions about his death. Jon thinks that no one understands how he feels until his dad asks him what he did on the day Grandad died. The illustrations are set up in a neat way. Moments when the boy asks his family members about his Grandad are illustrated in black and white. Moments when family members recall memories are illustrated in color. The illustrator also took old photographs of Grandad and drew them. Students do not need any background information in order to read this book.
Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: You could use this book to talk about how everyone deals with death differently, specifically how different cultures deal with death. The text is written in poem form, which can help students decide what word comes next. Also, the text is not very difficult or lengthy, which would make this book a good fit for early and middle elementary students.
Interdisciplinary Connections: To tie this book into a writing lesson, you could have your students write about someone close to them who died and how they felt about or dealt with the death. You could also have your students read this book in Literature Circles and then write their thoughts and feelings in a journal.
Other Information: This book made me tear up. It is really sweet and could help one of your students if they are dealing with a death. Keep in mind that this book could be emotional and difficult for some students. As a closure activity, you could have your students write letters to Jon expressing their sympathy for his loss.