Review by Marlene Perry
This touching story starts when Bobby
is just an infant, in a household that includes his parents and
grandfather. As Bobby learns to walk, it is his grandfather who
teaches him. "Hold on to my hands, Bobby," his grandfather said.
"Now one foot, now the other." And this begins the close and tender
relationship between a boy and his live-in grandfather.
This young-old duo learn many things
together through a favorite game of stacking blocks, storytelling
and much playtime spent together. As with many children, one of
Bobby's favorite activities is to ask for his grandfather's stories
about when Bobby was younger. Grandfather tells how he held Bobby's
hands and says, "Now one foot, now the other. And before you knew
The affection and closeness between the
two characters will be familiar to many children. Unfortunately for
Bobby, and some children, Grandfather suffers a stroke and is
hospitalized for many months. Bobby is confused and lonely, but the
time finally comes for Grandfather to return home. His parents try
to prepare Bobby for Grandfather's physical limitations, but Bobby
is unsure, hesitant and even frightened by his grandfather's
inability to walk, eat or talk.
With time, the boy discovers a glimmer
of recognition in his grandfather's eyes. Bobby gets out the old
blocks and begins to perform their familiar stacking game, doing all
the talking himself. Grandfather smiles and moves his fingers up and
down. Now Bobby knows that his grandfather will get better.
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Author De Paola describes the attention
and tender assistance that now 6-year-old Bobby shows his
grandfather. As spring arrives, the two go outside, and Grandfather
says, You. Me. Walk." Bobby stands in front and Grandfather leans on
his shoulders. "OK, Grandfather. Now one foot, now the other," says
And so the year continues with Bobby
taking care of the physical needs of the two, and the relationship
deepens. Now Bobby is proud to tell him the story of how he
taught Grandfather to walk.
This book is simply illustrated with
blue and brown drawings that don't overshadow the important story
that is taking place. Bobby's physical growth is evident from
beginning to end, but his understanding and acceptance of the
situation is the important growth of this story.
Children will be comforted by this
story of an unfortunate, but frequently common, turn of events in
this family's situation. The grandfather's impairments are not
harshly presented, but neither are they hidden from the child. The
boy's initial negative reactions can reassure your child that it's
OK to be confused or even scared of odd behaviors caused by physical
disabilities. De Paola uses this beautiful story to show children
that a relationship can continue in spite of some of life's
To check out this book and others by
Tomie de Paola, visit the Lincoln Public Library at 725 Pekin St. or
call (217) 732-5732.
[Marlene Perry, Lincoln
Public Library District]