Bernstrom, Daniel. Big Papa and the Time Machine. Shane W. Evans, Illus. Picture Book. HarperCollins, 01/2020. pp. $17.99. 978-0-06-246331-9. OUTSTANDING. GRADES PRE-2.
Grandfathers are honored for the stories they tell and the messages of love and wisdom they share in this picture book for preschool through second graders. A black child is fearful on the first day of school and is soothed by small stories of bravery told by Big Papa. This is the time travel mentioned in the title, past moments where Big Papa was scared but carried on anyway. As a refrain, the grandchild asks about Big Papa’s fears and is answered with some version of “Yes, but…” The stories are based on ones told by the author’s own grandfather. Bernstrom sweetly captures the content and speech styles of his grandfather’s originals. Illustrator Evans creates images where past and present (in the context of the book, the present is early 1990s) hold space together. The artist deftly and effectively uses degrees of translucence and soft colors to suggest memory, not an easy task. The images may be difficult to see from a distance, but the stories would make an excellent read and are certainly something to be savored one on one. The whole package of dreamy illustrations and stories within stories works beautifully.
Emma Coleman, Berkeley Public Library