Shu Lin’s Grandpa
Matt Goodfellow and Yu Rong
Shu Lin has recently come from China and with very little English, is struggling to fit in at her new school.
At lunchtime the other children are fascinated as they watch her tuck in to her little boxes of food. On the way home, one of her classmates recalls when he too was a newcomer but it’s not until Shu Lin’s grandpa visits the class with his Chinese paintings that anything really changes.
No words are needed as the children look in awe at his scrolls with their amazing scenes.
Then as silently as he arrived, Shu Lin’s grandpa leaves the classroom. That afternoon, the class teacher gives the children the opportunity to try painting their own pictures in response to what they’ve seen.
Matt Goodfellow’s text is presented through the narration of one of Shu Lin’s classmates and this is highly effective in that the boy relates his own experience to that of the newcomer showing understanding throughout the book, while Yu Rong’s illustrations, including a gate-fold that opens to reveal a remarkable Chinese scene, are absolutely superb.
That art is a hugely effective way of helping to develop empathy with other cultures comes across with a quiet power in this story that celebrates the imagination while demonstrating the importance of reaching out to others.
An important book to include in primary school class collections.