#DecolonizeBookshelves2022 Award-Winning Books Early Readers Features Genre It's Monday What Are You Reading Lifespan of a Reader Picture Books Reading Themes

[Monday Reading] Celebrating Dying Grandfathers And Their Treasures in 2022 Picturebooks

"All From A Walnut" by Ammi-Joan Paquette and Felicita Sala | "The Treasure Box" by Dave Keane and Rahele Jomepour Bell


It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date).


For 2022, our reading theme is #DecolonizeBookshelves2022. Essentially, we hope to feature books that fit any of the following criteria:

  1. Postcolonial literature and/or [pre/post] revolutionary stories
  2. Stories by indigenous / first-nation peoples / people of colour
  3. Narratives of survival and healing, exile and migration, displacement and dispossession
  4. Books written or illustrated by people who have been colonized, oppressed, marginalized

All From A Walnut (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by Ammi-Joan Paquette Illustrated by Felicita Sala
Published by Harry N. Abrams (2022)
ISBN: 141975002X (ISBN13: 9781419750021) Borrowed via Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

A young girl named Emilia wakes up one morning with a nut on her nightstand. This, apparently, was a signal for a treasured story from Emilia’s grandfather.

I am a fan of Felicita Sala’s art. The details, for example, as can be seen in the image spread above, are thoughtful and deliberate, with the nut on Emilia’s nightstand clearly belonging to the bowl of walnuts on the dining table where Emilia’s mother and grandfather are having breakfast.

Emilia, then, gets to hear “the best of stories” from her grandfather with the tale of how, as a very young boy, he traveled from Lake Como in Italy to the United States bringing only a small bag and a nut. While this may be perceived as another one of the im/migrant stories that are out there, what stood out for me in this story was the contrast between the tiny walnut planted by grandfather and granddaughter – its gradual growth and blossoming and the grandfather’s evident decline in health.

There is the sense of rootedness and continuity, grief and healing, and amidst it all, life continues on – with a little bit of water and sunlight.

The Treasure Box (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by Dave Keane Illustrator Rahele Jomepour Bell
Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers (2022) ISBN: 1984813188 (ISBN13: 9781984813183) Borrowed via Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

A young girl is excited about the new treasures she discovered: rocks, discarded snakeskin, sticks. She knows that there is one person on earth who would be as equally delighted by this wild collection: her grandfather.

I like seeing how the young girl waits patiently while the grownups talk and talk and talk until the time when she would finally have her grandfather all to herself, and see his “funny faces” while he delicately goes over his granddaughter’s collection. I also love the walks they take together as they collect treasures in Grandpa’s blue hat.

However, it is clear that Grandpa is growing weak each day: first the tubes in his nose while he was at home, then the hospital with the beeping machines, until the day the girl’s parents told her that Grandpa has died.

This was a book that caught me sideways and warmed my jaded reader’s heart. I am grateful that we are now at a stage in children’s book publishing when we respect and acknowledge children’s intelligence and maturity to be able to handle truths about death and dying – in all its permutations and stages. I believe that grief only gets even more overwhelming if it cannot be shared with another; and this book is about the gift of shared grief and the treasures we are able to derive from it.

#DecolonizeBookshelves2022 Update: 80/81 out of target 100

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

6 comments on “[Monday Reading] Celebrating Dying Grandfathers And Their Treasures in 2022 Picturebooks

  1. lindabaie

    Well, you must know I love grandparent stories, Myra! Thanks for these. I know about them but still haven’t read them. Your post makes me put them high on my list! Hope all is well with you. Have a great week coming up!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Stacy Mozer

    Two beautiful books. Thanks for sharing them!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Max @ Completely Full Bookshelf

    Wow, Myra—both of these stories look so beautiful! I’ve heard good things about All from a Walnut, and it looks like such an impactful story with great illustrations too. And I didn’t know about The Treasure Box, but wow—it seems like a story that really trusts young readers to understand the painful and beautiful truths of the world. Thank you so much for the thoughtful picks and reviews!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for sharing, these were new to me, and I hope to check them out.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So beautiful and poignant, both – love the illustrations. Thanks so much for sharing, Myra. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Like Linda B, I too love grandparent stories.
    All From A Walnut was already on my list, (I am also a fan of Felicita Sala’s stunning illustrations.) but I have added The Treasure Box. I think books have been around for a while that help kids deal with death. When I was still working I had a special list of picture books that addressed it. Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs was published in 1973!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: