Grandpa and the Kingfisher
Anna Wilson and Sarah Massini
This is such a gorgeous book, lyrically and lovingly written by Anna Wilson in memory of her father whose favourite bird was the kingfisher.
It begins one spring with a young child, Grandpa and their dog sitting together beside the river when suddenly there’s a flash of blue and a kingfisher darts past: ‘Its beak long and sharp. / Its wings shining like jewels. / It’s breast golden-red, like a sunset.’ Arrowlike it dives down beneath the water and when it surfaces, there’s a fish in its beak.
As spring gives way to summer the child narrator tells how on another visit to the river, they notice there are now two kingfishers – the original male and a female.
They watch the birds create a nest and eventually have a brood of chicks.
All the while, Grandpa has become more and more tired and frail looking. He tells the child, “No one lives forever … There wouldn’t be enough room for us all! …. Only nature goes on forever.” Adult readers can sense what is coming. even as the child says, “I’ll look after you, Grandpa.”
By December the adult birds have died and Grandpa reminds the child, “No one lives forever.”
Next spring Grandpa too has died and the child narrator tells us how much he is missed. In this gentle way one young child has experienced some of the wonders of nature and learned about the cycle of all life.
Now on my walks beside a stream near to where I live, not only will I be watching out for the kingfishers I know to inhabit its banks, I will be thinking about this story with Sarah Cassini’s beautiful, superbly well-observed illustrations of the natural world and Anna’s touching text.
A must for family and classroom sharing.