Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 4 to 7
- Grade: p to 2
- Reading age: 4 to 7
A child inherits a treasured stopwatch that belonged to a beloved grandparent in this touching story of loss that explores the stages of grief with sensitivity and wisdom.
“When summer started, I got Grampa's stopwatch,” a small child says. “I don't want his stopwatch. I want him.” Grampa used to time everything. A race to the end of the street and back: 24 seconds. Eating bubblegum ice cream: 1 minute, 58 seconds. But now, Grampa's gone. “There are no more Grampa minutes, Grampa seconds,” the child says. “Time just stops.” As the seasons come and go, the stopwatch becomes a cherished symbol of remembrance, and the child uses it to carry on Grampa's favorite pastimes and traditions.
Loretta Garbutt uses subtlety and sensitivity to explore the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) in this moving picture book story of loss. It features a gender-neutral main character (no first name or pronouns are given) making the story universally relatable. This is a perfect choice for fostering discussions with children about their emotions, particularly the feeling of loss. It also offers a poignant representation of an intergenerational relationship between a grandfather and grandchild. Carmen Mok's expressive and thoughtful illustrations employ a limited color palette to convey the character's emotional trajectory. There are curriculum applications here in social-emotional development as well as character education lessons in caring and resilience.
About the authors
Loretta Garbutt is a children's bookseller and voice actor based in Toronto, Ontario. She has played the voice of Valerie on the beloved children's television series Max and Ruby and the voice of Franklin the Turtle. A Stopwatch from Grampa is her debut picture book.
Carmen Mok is a studio-art graduate of the University of Waterloo, and a crafts and design graduate of Sheridan College in Ontario, Canada. Her books include Waiting for Sophie by Sarah Ellis, Look at Me Now by Carol McDougall and Shanda LaRamee-Jones, and Ride the Big Machines in Winter. She recently illustrated Grandmother’s Visit by Betty Quan, which was named an Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature Picture Book Honor Title, was on the shortlist of the IODE Ontario Jean Throop Book Award and was selected for the Ontario Library Association Best Bets List. Carmen lives in St. Catharines, Ontario.
- Winner, Best Picture Books of 2020, Kirkus Reviews
This story about loss, grief, and healing is both appealing and accessible.—Cooperative Chilren's Book Center
An excellent and understated portrayal of grief from a child's perspective.
Kirkus Reviews, starred review
... a strong choice for parents, teachers, and librarians to read with young children who have experienced loss.
A good discussion starter, this poignant, accessible picture book explores grief, the comfort provided by the passage of time, and the way in which memories allow us to keep loved ones in our hearts forever.
School Library Journal, starred review
... heart-tugging ...