A Stopwatch from Grampa
A Stopwatch from Grampa

A Stopwatch from Grampa

Written by Loretta Garbutt & illustrated by Carmen Mok
4 - 8
Reading age
Page count
Lexile measure
Apr 7, 2020
Publication date

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As time eases the pain of loss, a grandfather’s mechanical stopwatch becomes a treasured keepsake.

A young boy’s “grampa” used a stopwatch to time everything: “1 minute, 58 seconds” to eat an ice cream cone; “7 minutes, 22 seconds” for a caterpillar to climb the boy’s leg. But now, though it goes unstated, grandpa has passed away, and the boy is left with only the stopwatch, a painful reminder of loss. In his grief, the boy hides it away in his dresser drawer, but when he rediscovers it a year later, the soothing salve of time has changed the associated memories from painful to comforting. “The watch sounds like Grampa. It makes me think of all the things we used to time together.” Garbutt skillfully focuses a story with an important, poignant message around an item that perfectly captures a grandfather figure, a mechanical stopwatch: simple, even old-fashioned, but an object that makes a playful game of even the normal and mundane. For young readers struggling with grief, her story and Mok’s illustrations include opportunities to open up the story to discussion, like when the grandson in his grief scribbles out a picture and experiences a lack of interest in school and friends, or in a nuanced reference to guilt and regret: “Maybe I shouldn’t have told Grampa he snored like a dinosaur.” Mok’s color and graphite pencil illustrations are simple with a fittingly soft color palette.

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Book Details

Publication Date
April 7, 2020
Kids Can Press
Page Count
Reading Age
4 - 8 years
Lexile® Level
Est. Fountas & Pinnell Level
Est. ATOS® Book Level

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