Perfect Picture Book friday – Grandpa’s Tractor

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Grandpa’s Tractor

By Michael Garland

Published by Boyd Mills Press, 2011

Ages: 3-5

Themes: Generations, farms, tractors, modernization, memories

Opening/Synopsis: “Grandpa Joe and Timmy were going to see the old farm where Grandpa Joe used to live when he was a boy.”

This is a charmer; a story about a love affair with a red tractor; a story of sharing of memories. Grandpa drives Timmy out to the abandoned farm where he grew up. They see the dilapidated barns and silo, the run down house, and the rusty old red tractor. With each page turn, Grandpa Joe’s excitement and enthusiasm grow as he recounts all the year round essential activities his father used to do with that old tractor, often with Joe at his side. The present fades into the past and we see the tractor hauling wood through the winter (It feels like this is set in New England) and collecting barrels of apples in the fall. The urban scenes of the opening pages, give way to Garland’s beautiful rural landscapes. By the end Grandpa has painted such a vivid picture of life as it was in his youth on this vibrant farm, that Timmy has truly ‘experienced’ some of his grandpa’s childhood.

Why I like this Book: 

This is a beautifully illustrated tribute to a trusty Farmall tractor and to a way of life that is forgotten or unknown by most. Grandpa Joe’s memories and Garland’s trademark watercolours transform a rusty, redundant, abandoned machine into the glorious heart and soul of most farms half a century ago in rural America. The relationship between Grandpa and Grandson is heartwarming in an era of generational separation, and Timmy’s thankfulness for the sharing and trip are a fitting ending to this sweet story. Rather like Grandpa Green, this book does lend itself to be read by a grandparent or someone of this generation! Garland takes up the entire two pages for every spread, and I can promise you that you will feel like you have just had some good fresh air after romping through these pastoral pages. Michael Garland shares at the back of the book how a rusty old tractor he had driven past locally for years, was the inspiration for this story, and how he had knocked on the old farmyard door and interviewed the retired farmer about the life and times of the red tractor! As a writer, this reminds me to stay observant at all times for those story ideas.


A great Down on The Farm resource site.

Preschool Farm Activities.

Each child could ask a grandparent/older carer to share a childhood memory.

Susanna Leonard Hill and Patricia Tilton have both done wonderful author interviews with Michael Garland, here and here.

To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.  Or click on the Perfect Picture Book Fridays  badge in the right sidebar.

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34 Responses to Perfect Picture Book friday – Grandpa’s Tractor

  1. What a wonderful-sounding book! It certainly calls out to this farm girl! (And interestingly, I’ve chosen a farm book this week, as well!)

    Seeing the name Michael Garland on a book is like seeing the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval — I know it will be good, and I know the art will be fabulous.

    Thanks, Joanna!

  2. I love this book, Joanna. You described it so well. And I don’t live that far from Michael… I wonder if I’ve seen this actual tractor?! Thanks for adding this one to our list -it’s a great one!

  3. I love this. I think I may have to get it for my husband who has a love affair with tractors. Thanks!

    ? Kimberley ?
    First in Maine

  4. Great book. Sounds like a good one to get before Grandpa comes for a visit. We don’t have farmers in the family, but our grandpa loves their tractors for mowing. 🙂 I’m checking out the preschool activities. Thanks Joanna.

  5. So happy you reviewed Grandpa’s Tractor! It is a beautiful story about a grandpa sharing his memories. A friend of mine gave this book to her husband for his birthday! He grew up on a farm. They decided to do a tractor theme for their grandsons last Christmas! Urge you to send your link to Garland as he sends it to his publisher. Thanks for linking to my interview.

  6. This is just the kind of book I would have loved as a kid and would have loved to share with my kids when they were small. Both of my parents grew up on farms and I grew up visiting my grandparents’ farms and wishing I could have grown up there too.

  7. I would love to read this book! I wrote a farm story myself, but way different.

  8. Amy Dixon says:

    This book looks really beautiful. I feel like I’ve heard so much that pb writers need to avoid nostalgia, and yet here is an example where nostalgia clearly works! Thanks, Joanna!

  9. The home-grown life is definitely a hot topic today!

  10. Catherine Johnson says:

    This sounds great for boys inparticular. Thanks Joanna.

  11. What a lovely book! We have a “family tractor,” one that lives at my in-laws. The last time my husband was at his parents’ house, he and his dad spent hours working on it.

  12. This book looks like it tells a great, realistic-fiction tale! 🙂

  13. Heather says:

    What a lovely description of this book, Joanna! Thank you.

  14. Thanks for a walk down memory lane in New England, Joanna! Love the book and the activities/resource list are GREAT! BTW, your blog banner is AWESOME! 🙂

  15. Leslie Rose says:

    I come from farm folks. This book looks like a charmer.

  16. For a city girl, I think that this book would resonate with me in various levels. Very cute, Joanna. Sounds like a heartwarming tale too.

  17. Joanna says:

    It’s a warming generational tale for urban and country folk!

  18. Tracy Bermeo says:

    Joanna, I know I’m so late catching up from last week, but i figure better late than never, right? I used to love hearing my grandmother tell stories from her childhood. This sounds like an amazing story. Thanks for sharing!
    A2Z Mommy and What’s In Between

  19. I’m catching up! This book sounds delightful! Great review. It’s going on my Books I Want To Read board on Pinterest :•)

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