Review of When Charley Met Grampa, by Amy Hest and Helen Oxenbury

When Charley Met Grampa

by Amy Hest
illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

Candlewick Press, 2013. 36 pages.
Starred Review

Even though I’m not a dog person, this story of a boy and his puppy completely charmed me. Of course, I’ve been a fan of Helen Oxenbury’s pictures since my own son was small and we were all captivated by Tom and Pippo. The dog pictured here is so expressive and endearing, it’s hard to imagine anyone not falling in love.

The story is simple. Grampa is coming to visit Henry. Henry writes to tell Grampa about his new dog Charley. Grampa writes back that he’s never been friends with a dog before.

Then Henry and Charley go through the falling snow to the train station to meet Grampa. I love lines like this: “Charley’s tail was up in the air, which is code for I know the way to the station.

They have to wait for the train, so Henry tells Charley about Grampa. The train finally comes and they meet Grampa, who asks Charley if he’s friendly or fierce. On the way home, Grampa’s green cap blows off his head, and Charley runs after it, getting lost in the snow. There’s a page with both Henry and Grampa calling for Charley. “And then he was there. With Grampa’s green cap.”

The book ends as cozily as possible:

That night Charley jumped on the bed with Grampa. He looked in Grampa’s eyes and Grampa looked back, which is code for
I love you,
I love you,
I love you.

They both fell asleep.
And Grampa snored wild.

Simply a cozy, warm, beautiful book about a boy, his dog, and his Grampa.

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

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