Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate
Author: Rosemary Wells
Illustrator: Christopher Denise
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Jenny, a sweet little mouse growing up in Boston, has spent most of her childhood following her grandfather. Grandfather taught Jenny everything she knows, such as the names of all the seashells on Revere Beach and the importance of kindness and self-confidence in spite of social status. Grandfather has lovingly raised Jenny while her parents have been busy running the Italian restaurant that Grandfather himself started when he first came to America from Naples, Italy. But one day, Grandfather is suddenly gone, and Jenny finds herself attending his funeral in disbelief and denial. Jenny spent so much time following Grandfather that without him, she finds herself still looking for him. Jenny comes to accept Grandfather’s passing when she “finds” him among the seashells that he once showed her.
Following Grandfather is a powerful representation of the grief one goes through at the death of a beloved family member. Jenny mourns the passing of her grandfather and must learn to accept his death; however, she also finds ways to remember him fondly without continuing to feel the debilitating pain of her loss. All readers will be able to personally connect with this because everyone will, at some point, experience the death of a loved one. Additionally, the exceptionally lovely and lifelike illustrations make the story even more relatable. Everyone will need to eventually accept their loss, but this does not mean they will forget those who have passed. At times of death and sorrow we will finds parts of those we have loved in the world all around us, just as Jenny finds her grandfather in the seashells at Revere Beach. These warm reminders will keep the memory of our loved ones alive.