Grandpa Jazz is getting ready to go to the airport to visit the tropical island where he was born – clues suggest the island is Mauritius although this is not directly stated. His grandson Frank is helping him pack. Frank finds some interesting things in Grandpa’s suitcase, each prompting a recollection of island life – including the small piece of rock which leads Grandpa to tell the story of falling into a volcanic crater. Grandpa is a master storyteller; even a bar of soap brings back memories of his own grandma washing clothes in the river. The journey to the airport becomes an imaginary adventure when Grandpa recalls the giant snails and their silvery trails and Frank pictures them as he looks out of the window.
Although these are mostly fond memories, the discovery of a badge with his name causes Grandpa to recollect his arrival, the segregation imposed on people of colour on board ship, and the experience of finding a job with people changing his name as they couldn’t pronounce it.
This is a warm and appealing story with an unexpected and very satisfying ending. The illustrations are delightful, with lots to ponder. There are additional stories waiting to be imagined by young readers, particularly of the fun Frank and Grandpa have together at the end of the story. The love between Grandpa, Frank and his mother is clear.
This is a story about family love, particularly between grandparents and grandchildren, and the special connections which stories can make between generations as they share memories and build them together too.