A Stopwatch from Grampa
A Stopwatch from Grampa
When summer started, I got Grampa’s stopwatch.
I don’t want his stopwatch. I want him.
In A Stopwatch from Grampa, a young child mourns the loss of a grandparent. Grampa’s favourite item was his stopwatch. Grampa used the watch all the time, and the young child cannot believe that he would leave it behind.
He timed me eating
bubblegum ice cream:
1 minute, 58 seconds.
Brain freeze: 6 seconds.
The child, angry and frustrated with the loss, tosses the stopwatch in a drawer. It feels as if time has stopped. The child tries to resume life at school and with friends but finds daily life to be a challenge. Over time, the child forgets about the stopwatch but one day discovers it again. The child begins playing with it, and the watch reminds the child of Grampa, but this time, the feelings are better:
The watch sounds like Grampa. It makes me think of
all the things we used to do together. Remembering
him feels good.
A Stopwatch from Grampa is illustrated by Cameron Mok in muted colours with splashes of red. The young child is androgynous, and the illustrations are more child-like than realistic to present the narrative from a child’s perspective. These drawings are simple but appealing and represent emotions well. For example, the drawing of the scribbled out dragon represents the child’s anger about death. Small details, like the lovable family dog, throughout the text add to the visual interest that enhances the written story.
I found the storyline of Garbutt’s A Stopwatch from Grampa to be quite realistic of a child’s experience of the death of a grandparent. The child in the story experiences many stages of grief, and, at the end of the story, the child has warm memories of Grampa. I also appreciate the metaphor of time throughout the story: time standing still, time healing wounds, time spent with Grampa created wonderful memories.
A Stopwatch from Grampa would make a strong choice for parents, teachers, and librarians to read with young children who have experienced loss. The picture book may provoke discussion about dealing with grief as well as the memories and mementos from loved ones who have passed.
Dr. Kristen Ferguson teaches literacy education at the Schulich School of Education at Nipissing University in North Bay. Ontario.
Dr. Kristen Ferguson teaches literacy education at the Schulich School of Education at Nipissing University in North Bay, Ontario.