When they were young, Gramps and Grandad travelled the world in a cosy pink camper van, a ‘little home on wheels’ that brought adventures to their door. These days, Grandad lives all alone in a cottage, but his stories about Gramps bring him to life for their grandchild, who likes listening to tales of days gone by and notices that Grandad seems a little sad.
‘Do you still have your camper van?’ the child asks, one summer, and Grandad admits that yes, he does, although it’s looking rather sad and lonely in the garage. ‘Let’s fix it up and go to the seaside,’ suggests the child. ‘Together!’ And so begins a restoration project with a truly satisfying goal – a beach campout with hot chocolate, marshmallows and a singalong. It’s just what Gramps would have wanted!
Grandad and Gramps are a visibly diverse couple whose relationship glows with love, respect and happy memories, and their kind and inclusive story is told from the child’s perspective, in a way that feels as though they’re talking to young readers.
Harry Woodgate’s text delivers an important message but it’s their artwork that makes this book stand out. Expansive, textured spreads depicting landscapes, gardens and the van interior are interspersed with busier ‘action’ layouts as Grandad describes his memories, and Woodgate’s subtle rainbow palette creates warmth on every page. The endpapers are particularly beautiful, bookending the camper van’s adventures in a way that invites imaginative discussions and makes us want to climb on board and share the fun.
Parents and carers will appreciate this book’s positive approach to inclusivity and sense of calm contentment (especially at bedtime!), but it would also make a good starting point for reminiscence work and intergenerational projects in schools and libraries.