Gecko Press, 2019
144pp., pbk., RRP $A18.99
Grandpa is stuck in hospital with a broken leg and a heart that is coming to the end of its working life. Used to being an engineer on the great ships of the seas, being confined to a bed is making him cranky and cantankerous and he swears at everyone, continually pushes the alarm buzzes because he is bored and complains about the food. “Not even the water tastes any good.” Only young Gottfried, his grandson, finds pleasure in visiting him and understands the reason for his moods.
And so he hatches a plan to get Grandad out of there, on one last adventure…
This is a heart-warming family story that captures the frustration of the elderly who know their end is coming and want to be anywhere but in a hospital as well as the ideality of youth whose imaginations are not constrained by the realities of what is safest – they think of ‘what if” and deal with ‘what now ‘ and ‘what next’ if and when it arises. Gottfried’s plan to give his grandfather one last simple pleasure has to be complex and he does worry about whether sometimes it’s OK to lie and the consequences, but his love for Grandpa is stronger than any obstacles.
Written by a renowned Swedish author and set in Stockholm, this is, nevertheless, a universal story, one that many of us with ageing parents and grandparents will relate to. The unusual illustrations done with coloured pencil bring colour into what is otherwise a drab life for Grandpa but Gottfried’s love for him shines through, making it an uplifting story about how both deal with end-of-life issues. Something special.