7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #654: Featuring Daniel Egnéus

h1 September 8th, 2019 by jules

I am happy to see a new picture book illustrated by Daniel Egnéus, who has illustrated two of my favorites this year (see here and here). This is Wendy Meddour’s Grandpa’s Top Threes (Candlewick, September 2019), and it a moving look at grief — and how it affects a child and his grandparent. It was evidently first published in the UK as Tibble and Grandpa.

“Henry was talking,” the book opens. “But Grandpa was gardening. Again.” I love this. We see young Henry on the verso; it appears that he is expounding in great detail on one topic or another, finger in the air as if to accentuate his point. On the recto, there is Grandpa. Yes, he’s gardening, but he seems lost in thought. Or maybe just lost.

Henry asks his Mom why Grandpa is always gardening, to which she tells him: “Just give him some time.” Henry fails to reach his Grandpa — until, that is, he engages him in the top three game. “What are your top three sandwiches?” he asks him one day. Grandpa’s face lights up a bit. Then they discuss their top three jellyfish, trains, and days-out. The latter is Grandpa’s idea, asking his grandson what he’d like to do that day. (“The zoo. The swimming pool. The park,” Henry exclaims.)

The life seems to be seeping back into Grandpa, thanks to his ebullient grandchild, filled with joy and a bustling energy. It is when Henry asks Grandpa who his “top three Grannies” are that it is revealed Grandpa is mourning the loss of his wife. (See the spread below.) It is a deeply felt moment, tender and restrained.

Meddour writes with a delightful specificity: Henry’s answers to the top three game are detailed, often funny, and reveal much about his personality. She succinctly captures Grandpa’s grief (“Grandpa made a little grunty noise”).

Egnéus’s atmospheric, blue- and green-hued watercolor illustrations capture Grandpa’s sorrow with subtlety. (This book is too smart to engage in overwrought sentimentality.) He often stands alone (at least at first), set apart from his family, a wide-eyed look of disbelief and helplessness on his face. To see the smile return, thanks to Henry, is a thing of beauty.

Here are some spreads so that the art can speak for itself. …


“Henry went to find Mom. ‘Why’s Grandpa always gardening?’ he asked.
‘Just give him time,’ said Mom.”

(Click to enlarge spread)



(Click first image to see spread in its entirety


“Grandpa took a deep breath. ‘Mine are Granny when she danced in the moonlight … Granny when she watered the roses … and Granny when she first held you.’
‘I miss Granny,’ said Henry. ‘So do I, lad,’ Grandpa sighed.”

(Click to enlarge spread)



* * * * * * *

GRANDPA’S TOP THREES. Text copyright © 2019 by Wendy Meddour. Illustrations copyright © 2019 by Daniel Egnéus. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) A Danielson birthday this weekend and …

2) … baking my first vegan cake.

3) Good conversations about children’s lit with friends.

4) Roger Sutton’s conversation with Christopher Myers, posted this past week.

5) I got Joan Shelley’s beautiful new album on vinyl. Music to slow the blood.



6) This book I featured this past week. As someone who daily sees new wrinkles on her face, I appreciate it.

7) Getting ready to talk in-depth about picture books.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

5 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #654: Featuring Daniel Egnéus”

  1. Good morning, Imps and Daniel! Happy Grandparents Day!

    Jules: Nice use of the word ebullient! Enjoy the festivities. Music is always important.

    My kicks:
    1 Feeling better
    2 Introductions
    3 Stories
    4 Recaps
    5 Thoughtfulness
    6 Recycle
    7 Ice cream

  2. A perfect book for Grandparent’s Day. I think this book has many possibilities for use in school.
    Jules, birthday greetings to the person in your house. That book on wrinkles, our wisdom lines is perfect.
    LW, glad to hear you are feeling better. And hooray for ice cream.
    My kicks:
    1. My niece is here and taking an acupuncture class in Portland. So happy to have her for four days.
    2. We saw Paris, 1900 at the Portland Art Museum. Jules, it’s coming to Nashville in November. You. Must. Go.
    3. Powell’s Books twice this week.
    4. Photos.
    5. Friends.
    6. Reading.
    7. Hint of fall.
    Have a great week.

  3. What a tender and thoughtful looking book. I love the colors choices and the expressions on the faces, the movement – thank you!
    Love all the kicks – and wow is the album cover art gorgeous too. Happy Birthday and glad to read everyone’s good news.
    My Kicks:
    1. Fall release picture books – there are some real beauties
    2. School Libraries Opening this week – can’t wait to see the kiddos
    3. Gratitude for intense training – lots of deep thinking
    4. Pilates – hard work paying off to help my back
    5. The joys of clean laundry at the end of a busy weekend
    6. The Doughnut Fix by Jessie Janowitz – an utterly charming middle grade book
    7. Rereading The Outsiders with my 7th grader – just so good.

    Wishing all a wonderful week.

  4. Love this book about grandparents and grief, and how it lets the characters take their time.

    Jules – how did the vegan cake turn out? Yum. cake. Thanks for the music rec, will check it out.

    Little Willow – glad you are feeling better. And that both thoughtfulness and ice cream made appearances in your week.

    Jone – That exhibit looks amazing, I am sorry I missed it. Yay for Powells, friends and reading.

    Allison – how fun to re-read The Outsiders with your 7th grader – such a classic. Clean laundry is one of those things that always brings a little joy.

    My kicks:
    1) Made it through another intense week.
    2) My copy of Katherine Rundell’s The Good Thieves arrived this week!
    3) Listening to The Highwomen’s album – so good.
    4) I was gone from home for work during the week, so getting to come home to Daisy was pretty awesome. Dog welcome homes are the best.
    5) A Saturday afternoon nap.
    6) The rain has started.
    7) Cooler fall weather already.
    7.5) Football smack talk season is here.

    Have a great week everyone!

  5. Little Willow: Glad you are feeling better!

    Jone: Thanks for the heads-up. I will try my best to see the exhibit. Have fun with your niece!

    Allison: Ooh, library is opening. That’s exciting. … My daughter read The Outsiders last year in seventh grade, and she loved it so much she asked me to read it aloud to her (and her sister).

    Rachel: The cake was really good. No eggs and the milk substitute was almond milk. It was delicious. Happy Rundell-reading!

    Have a good week, you all.

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