Following Grandfather by Rosemary Wells, Christopher Denise |, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Following Grandfather

Following Grandfather

by Rosemary Wells, Christopher Denise

Invisible to humans exists a parallel world of mice, where young Jenny misses her cherished grandfather so much that she begins to see him everywhere.

Jenny is as close to her grandfather as a small mouse can be. Grandfather shows Jenny how to button her buttons and how to write her name. He passes along to her the secrets of making the best lasagna in all


Invisible to humans exists a parallel world of mice, where young Jenny misses her cherished grandfather so much that she begins to see him everywhere.

Jenny is as close to her grandfather as a small mouse can be. Grandfather shows Jenny how to button her buttons and how to write her name. He passes along to her the secrets of making the best lasagna in all of Boston. And during long, shared days at Revere Beach, Grandfather teaches Jenny the names of the seashells they find washed up on shore. When Grandfather is all of a sudden gone one day, the hole he leaves behind is too great for Jenny to fathom. Isn’t that him turning a corner, sitting on a bench, heading for the pier, walking along their beloved beach? Jenny runs after the familiar silver whiskers, hoping. . . . Rosemary Wells peels back the layers of grief to reveal, at its core, something as exquisite and achingly beautiful as the rare and storied queen’s teacup seashell. Christopher Denise illustrates mid-century Boston with affection, and a mouse and her grandfather with gentle humor and unabashed sympathy.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In a brief, tender story with quiet charm, Wells (On the Blue Comet) celebrates the bond between a mouse and her grandfather, while exploring a child's ability to cope with loss. Wells depicts an enticing society of anthropomorphic mice who live and cavort in tucked-away parts of human habitats. Jenny explains how her grandfather stowed away on a ship sailing from Italy to Boston and opened a restaurant in the attic of an Italian eatery, "featuring daily specials from the kitchen downstairs." After he retires, the loving mouse devotes his time to his granddaughter and encourages her to hold her head high despite her humble status and to embrace life: "Grandfather said hello to the world. I learned to say hello, too, in that way that made the world smile back." Jenny's connection to Grandfather after his death—she repeatedly thinks she sees him, and perhaps finally does—is poignantly conveyed through her ingenuous voice and Denise's (If I Could) filmy halftone illustrations. Avoiding overt sentimentality, Wells's reflections on love and memories are more pensive than somber. Ages 6–9. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. Illustrator's agent: Elena Mechlin, Pippin Properties. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Ellen Welty
Jenny's grandfather is a self-made mouse who immigrated to America on the steamship Leonardo da Vinci and made his home in a wardrobe in the attic of Salvadore's Spaghetti House in Boston. There he opened his own mouse restaurant that became very popular among the mouse population in North Boston. When he retired and turned the operation of the restaurant over to Jenny's parents, he became Jenny's care giver. Together they explored beaches and department stores with Grandfather teaching Jenny how to conduct herself with confidence and pride. When Grandfather dies, Jenny starts imagining that she sees his whiskers or his cane in the distance wherever she is. This sweet and comforting story explores how young children miss someone who has died. Rosemary Wells is the author of many good books for young children and this one does not disappoint. The illustrations are as gentle and soothing as the story and do a fine job of depicting the lives of the small characters. This is a great story of memories of family, place, and time, and is highly recommended. Reviewer: Ellen Welty
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—A heartwarming tale of love and loss, privilege and class, set in bustling Boston. Jenny is a mouse who is looked after by her wise and worldly grandfather while her parents run the family restaurant. Summer days are spent at the beach where she savors the taste of clams lovingly prepared by her grandfather with "a little olive oil and a dab of fresh mozzarella." It is during these visits that she learns that life is not necessarily better for those privileged with expensive possessions. Grandfather imparts this knowledge to his granddaughter by traveling through the diverse neighborhoods of the city, introducing her to the many ways that mice make a living and treating all whom they encounter with respect and dignity. One day, Jenny's world of comfort and adventure is shattered when Grandfather passes away. Unable to absorb the loss, she thinks she sees him all around town. She finds peace when she receives a special message from him in the sand and shells of their beloved beach. Beautifully written text and endearing gray-scale illustrations transport readers and add to the poignancy of the tale. The message that all people are worthy of respect is artfully delivered and the manner in which Jenny mourns her grandfather's death will evoke empathy from young readers who have suffered a similar loss. A must-have for most collections.—Amy Shepherd, St. Anne's Episcopal School, Middleton, DE
Kirkus Reviews
When her beloved grandfather dies, a grieving little mouse imagines she sees him in their favorite Boston haunts in this gentle story of intergenerational love and loss. Jenny's enterprising grandfather arrives in mid-20th-century Boston's North End as a steamship stowaway and settles in the attic of Salvadore's Spaghetti House, where he operates his own successful Italian restaurant. By the time Jenny's born, Grandfather has retired and takes care of her, spooning warm milk over her pudding, teaching her to button her buttons and letting her fall asleep to the ticking of his pocket watch. Later, Grandfather escorts Jenny through the North End to meet his friends and to Revere Beach to search for shells. When she's older, Grandfather encourages Jenny to be proud of her humble origins and never look at the snobbish "Lodges, Lowells, or Cabots with envy or shame." Jenny follows Grandfather everywhere, until one day he's gone, "never to come back," leaving her desolate and diminished until she discovers his enduring legacy in a seashell. Writing with tenderness and humor, Wells creates an authentic, parallel, mouse-sized world within Boston while introducing readers to human-sized devotion and grief in the fully developed relationship between Jenny and Grandfather. Softly anthropomorphic black-and-white illustrations expressively convey the bond between a mouse and her inspiring grandfather. Poignant and sweet. (Animal fantasy. 6-9)

Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

Meet the Author

Rosemary Wells has written or illustrated more than 120 books for children and has received numerous awards. She is the creator of the beloved Max and Ruby stories; the illustrator of My Very First Mother Goose and Here Comes Mother Goose, both edited by Iona Opie; the author of On the Blue Comet, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline; and the author of Lincoln and His Boys, illustrated by P.J. Lynch. Rosemary Wells lives in upstate New York.

Christopher Denise has illustrated many books for young readers, including Oliver Finds His Way by Phyllis Root, Knitty Kitty by David Elliott, If I Could by Susan Milord, and several of the Redwall books by Brian Jacques. Christopher Denise lives in Rhode Island.

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