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Children's Fiction Native Canadian

Grandpa's Girls

by (author) Nicola Campbell

illustrated by Kim LaFave

Groundwood Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Sep 2011
Native Canadian, Multigenerational, Farm & Ranch Life
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2011
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 4 to 7
  • Grade: p to 2
  • Reading age: 4 to 7


A finalist for the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize

A young girl delights in a visit to her grandpa’s farm. She and her cousins run through the fields, explore the root cellar where the salmon and jars of fruit are stored, swing on a rope out the barn loft window, visit the Appaloosa in the corral and tease the neighbor’s pig. The visit is also an opportunity for this child to ask Grandpa what her grandmother,Yayah, was like, and explore the “secret room,”with its old wooden trunk of ribbons, medals and photos of Grandpa in uniform.

There is a wonderful blend of fun and family history in this visit to a grandparent, but also the realization that there can be some things about the people we know and love that will always remain a mystery.

About the authors

Nicola Campbell is Interior Salish and Métis author who lives in British Columbia. She has a BFA and a MFA in creative writing, and is currently working towards a doctoral degree focusing on contemporary Indigenous Storytelling at UBC Okanagan in Kelowna, BC. Her first free-verse children book "Shi-shi-etko" was published in September 2005 and was a finalist for the 2006 Ruth Schwartz Children Book Award, the 2006 TD Canadian Children Literature Award and the 2006 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award. Her second free-verse picture book "Shin-chi's Canoe" won the 2009 TD Canadian Children Literature Award and was a finalist for the 2009 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award and a 2008 Governor General Award for illustration. She believes it is time for Indigenous stories to focus on empowerment, rather than tragedy.

Nicola Campbell's profile page

Kim LaFave is a prolific picture book artist with many titles to his name, including Amos's Sweater, Ben Over Night, and Big Ben, which earned him the Mr. Christie's Book Award Silver Seal. He has also won the Governor General's Award, the Ruth Schwartz Children's Book Award, and the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator's Award. Kim lives on the west coast of Canada, in Robert's Creek, British Columbia.

Kim LaFave's profile page


  • CCBC Choices Best of the year
  • BC Book Prize Shortlist

Editorial Reviews

The book is a vicarious pleasure...

Quill & Quire

The voice may be adult, but the experience is recalled vividly enough to bring young readers along.


The kids’ robust curiosity and enterprising snooping make it deliciously cheerful.

Toronto Star

Librarian Reviews

Grandpa’s Girls

The award-winning team of Nicola Campbell and Kim LaFave have produced another poignant picture book that is pure delight for children as young as five. The cover of Grandpa’s Girls offers a clue to the reader, as each of the girls depicted sees things from a different perspective. But the cousins have one thing in common: a love for their grandfather and his farm.

As in Campbell’s other books – Shin-chi’s Canoe and Shi-shietko – time and memory play a major role, beginning on the title page, which shows a collection of wartime memorabilia: a photo of a young man in uniform, several service medals and a gold pocket watch on a chain. The memories of the cousins’ time together playing, exploring and adventuring at Grandpa’s farm are powerful reminders that children’s joy during family times is a gift in itself.

LaFave’s fantastically detailed two-page aerial view of the ranch with its many familiar locations sets the mood for the changing perspectives of the girls. Above and below ground, raiding the root cellar, swinging happily in the loft and then listening intently to Grandpa in his tool shed, they share their experiences with him.

Text and illustration work powerfully together on the last few pages where the girls retreat to Grandpa’s secret room and discover, in a wooden trunk, the mystery of his life. Their hero is indeed a historic hero, one of many aboriginal veterans who served Canada so bravely during the Second World War. “Once a soldier, now a veteran, Grandpa is our everything – elder, gardener, chef, businessman, rancher, cowboy… But best of all, he’s Grandpa.”

This is a beautiful book in its message of intergenerational family sharing time. Every reader can relate memories of their own visits spent adventuring with siblings and cousins. Best of all is the opportunity for teachers of younger students to use this story to talk about the bravery of our much-decorated aboriginal soldiers. We forget war knows no race or religion amongst those who serve, and their own memories are often tucked away until they are asked about the stories behind the pictures or the medals.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Fall 2011. Volume 34 No. 4.

Grandpa’s Girls

On a visit to her grandpa’s farm, a little girl and her cousins delight in exploring the buildings and fields around the farm, swinging out of the barn loft and feeding the Appaloosa crabapples. They ask questions about their grandma, search out Grandpa’s candy jar and discover the contents of his old wooden trunk.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. Fall, 2012.

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