Grandad’s Secret Giant is David Litchfield’s enchanting follow-up to his prizewinning debut, The Bear and the Piano. According to Billy’s grandad, there’s a giant living secretly in the town who spends his time doing good deeds for the people who live there. So far, he has mended the town clock, stopped trees from falling during storms and rescued dogs trapped on roofs. However, Billy takes a lot of convincing that the giant is real as he can’t understand why he would want to keep his existence a secret. His grandad explains that when people see the giant they get scared because he is different. When Billy eventually encounters the giant, he initially runs away but then quickly realises that the giant is feeling lonely and only wants a friend.
This picturebook is an absolute joy from start to finish. The story is simple and accessible with some lovely figurative language (He has hands the size of tables, legs as long as drainpipes and feet as big as rowing boats…). The contrast between the atmospheres created in the opening and closing endpapers would provide a great basis for a discussion. David Litchfield’s use of colour throughout the vibrant illustrations is excellent, as is the way that he uses body language to show the different emotions of the main characters. There is so much to see in the pictures that it is a book that requires repeated reading.
The main themes of the story are prejudice and loneliness and it provides a thought-provoking lesson about how we all need to look beyond the obvious before making judgments about people. Although aimed at younger children, older children will also enjoy discussing the messages contained within, as well being swept into the stunning artwork.