The Definitive Guide to

When Grandpa Gives You a Toolbox

Written by Jamie L. B. Deenihan and illustrated by Lorraine Rocha
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What Does Bookroo Think of This Book

“This delightful story focused on an inter-generational relationship engenders creativity and helping others in a masterfully-clever execution.”

The story begins with the opening endpapers as Grandpa starts to pull into the driveway with his pick-up truck, balloons filling the cab and a bow-bedecked red toolbox riding in the bed. It doesn’t end until the final endpapers, where readers can observe the physical transformation of the boy’s backyard (and the neighborhood!) mirroring the transformation of the little boy’s attitude towards the gift and his grandpa. Although the little boy, who remains nameless throughout the story, hopes for a doll-house for his birthday (a challenge of gender stereotypes), he grudgingly practices good manners (with a few eye-rolls) as he gives the reader instructions on the appropriate way to behave—“be patient,” “compliment Grandpa,” ”give him a hug,” etc. He soon discovers, however, that the toolbox sparks creativity and empowers him not only to create the world’s most magnificent dollhouse that will have both boys and girls clamoring to get a toolbox and build one of their own, but also to help his neighbors, create a community and spend quality time learning with his grandpa, whose teaching style is exemplary and evident throughout the illustrations (e.g. the host of wonky birdhouses built before the final one is complete). With a witty and playful tone, the masterful storytelling allows space for a significant portion of the story to be told through the illustrations. The illustrations themselves are beautiful, executed in bold colors and jam-packed with clever details—the little boys’ initials appear on the toolbox above the grandpa’s, Meyer and Lemon streets crossing on the front endpapers referencing an earlier book by the same creative team, and blueprints for the birdhouse, to name just a few.

What's This Book About

Publisher Summary

In this delightful story, by the same author who wrote When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree, a boy is disappointed with his grandfather’s gift—until he learns he can use it to build exactly what he wanted with his own two hands, and a little help from grandpa, of course!

You asked for a special house for your dolls; but instead Grandpa gives you a toolbox! What do you do? Launching it into outer space is a bad idea. So is feeding it to a T. rex! Instead, be patient, pay attention, and you might find that you’re pretty handy. And just maybe, with grandpa’s help, you’ll get that dollhouse after all. This clever story celebrates kindness, hard work, and community, as well as variety in gender expression: the male main character proudly engages in activities that might be considered typically girl (playing with dolls) and typically boy (building with tools).

What Kind of Book is When Grandpa Gives You a Toolbox

Quotes from This Book

  • "As a new builder, you'll want to find an experienced project manager to help you get started. Together, you'll create a plan and gear up. Safety first!"
  • "Your neighbor won't complain about the noise, though she will ask for help with repairs . . . and recommend you to all her friends."

What Questions Should I Ask My Child

  • The little boy in the story was hoping for one thing for his birthday, but he got something else. What can you learn about how to react when you receive something you aren’t initially excited about?

  • At the beginning of the book, before the story begins, there’s an author’s note detailing her husband’s diagnosis with cancer. To raise awareness for cancer patients, a gray ribbon and a gold ribbon have been included in the illustrations. Can you find them?

  • Take a close look at the page where the Grandpa and little boy are building the birdhouse. On the back workbench, there are lots of different birdhouses that look like they didn’t quite work out. Can you think of a time when you had to fail in order to learn and ended up with something awesome?

Trusted Reviews & Ratings

The Book Snob Mom
Mom, Avid Reader, Austen Fangirl
B is for Bookworm
Human Development Degree, Book-loving aunt
Mom of Boys
Three little boys who love books about dragons, whangdoodles and magic.

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Who Wrote When Grandpa Gives You a Toolbox

Jamie L. B. Deenihan

Jamie L. B. Deenihan is a teacher and member of SCBWI and the 12 x 12 Picture Book Challenge. Her first picture book was When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree. She lives in Suffield, CT, with her family. Visit her online at and on Twitter @jlbdeenihan.

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Who Illustrated When Grandpa Gives You a Toolbox

Lorraine Rocha

Lorraine Rocha studied illustration and animation and worked at Lucasfilm’s VFX and animation studio Industrial Light & Magic, contributing to such films as Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Ironman. She is the illustrator of Zebra on the Go by Jill Nogales. Lorraine lives with her family in San Leandro, CA.

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What Has Jamie L. B. Deenihan Said About This Book

Nothing yet! 🤷 You should let Jamie L. B. Deenihan know that we want more details from them about When Grandpa Gives You a Toolbox! Try tweeting at them on twitter (@jlbdeenihan).

What Has Lorraine Rocha Said About This Book

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Jamie L. B. Deenihan's Book Dedication

For my dad, who has given me the tools to take on any challenge, and Ricky, Nathan, and Alex, who I love building a live with—I love you more.

Lorraine Rocha's Book Dedication

For Grandpa Ed and Grandpa Rafa

What kind of pet does the little boy have?
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  3. a chimp
  4. a mouse
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Book Details

ISBN 10:
ISBN 13:
Publication Date:
March 3, 2020