Big Papa and the Time Machine had an odd journey to my reading stack. Daniel Bernstrom’s story was not in play (yet) it was that cover by Shane W. Evans. It looked surreal, awkward, ironically a combination of extremely young and a lot of text. It actually did no look “fun” or that I would “like” it. Then, the other night, it found its way back on the stack. I still was unsure but decided to give it a shot.
And as the old say is true: Do not judge a book by the cover.
This is a lovely story about family, about courage and why being scared is okay. A young child is afraid to go to school. They wish to stay home with their beloved grandfather. He takes the child on a journey of the past when the hop into his old truck. We see the life of the grandfather from a young man (not chronological) from the 1940’s to “today.” The fear the grandfather had to face (leaving home, not finishing school, asking his wife for that first dance, taking care of a baby when he was “too old’) unfold in a medium to fast paced story. The love the two have for each other comes across in simple (not simplistic) but full text.
Unique illustrations finish the story. Evans has a surreal and realistic element to their illustrations. Dream-like, but not necessarily dreamy. They are boldly done, but softly done at the same time. The are art you experience. As an adult, I think one would appreciate them more than the average child. And due to some context (the racism is handled well and there is the mother leaving the baby with the grandfather) the younger picture book crowd might not be “into this book” but the strong 5 to 8 would be better. It also could work in a classroom setting if you are dealing with a unit fear/courage or if a multi-generational unit.
Based on the authors own grandfather with an afterwards that details the authors own relationship with his grandfather.