Grandfather’s Wrinkles

Written by Kathryn England
Illustrated by Richard McFarland

In a conversation with his toddler granddaughter Lucy, Grandfather explains the origin of each of the “crinkles” on his “crunchy” face: “Every time I smiled an extra big smile, I got a wrinkle to show for it.”

Grandfather’s memories of these happy events — his wedding day, when his daughter (Lucy’s mother) was born, his daughter’s wedding day, and more — are shown in full-spread illustrations, alternating with close-ups of Lucy on Grandfather’s lap. Her pudgy fingers softly tracing each crease intriguingly contrast with the lined old skin on his face. Grandfather’s newest wrinkles, of course, were acquired when he smiled so hugely on the day that Lucy was born.

After hearing this sweet, simple story, children will be delighted to use Lucy’s method to learn more about their own grandparents’ memories, and adults will view their wrinkles in a fresh new light.

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  • Bank Street Best Children’s Books of the Year 2008, starred for Outstanding Merit


From School Library Journal
…rich, realistic illustrations convey the loving relationship between grandparent and grandchild. The wordless spreads flashing back to Granddad’s special memories are particularly moving, skillfully depicting the passing of time and showing how he has aged since his wedding. Children will enjoy sharing this lovely picture book with grandparents, who are likely to be inspired to recount the memories that created their own wrinkles.

From Foreword
…an uplifting addition to stories about inter-generational love…Completely child-centered…evocative story…

From Children’s Literature
…a warm interchange of family history…

From Library Media Connection
Large, color illustrations with lots of details and short meaningful text make this is a very nice book to share with young children. The story centers on a little girl’s conversation with her granddad. She asks him why his skin doesn’t fit. He proceeds to answer her questions by explaining where each of his wrinkles originated. The first came as he smiled as he married her grandmother, the second when her mother was born, the third at a funny time in her mother’s childhood, and on and on. At the end, he explains how his really big wrinkles came as a result of her birth. At that point, Lucy smiles a big smile that starts the wrinkles in her face. What a good idea–wrinkles come from smiles, not frowns. This book could be a trigger to talk about pleasant memories. A writing assignment about “My summer vacation” might take on new meaning if the teacher asked “What happened this summer that will give you a happy wrinkle in the future?” Recommended.

From Dr. Laura Schlessinger on the Dr. Laura Live Radio Show
I love this one…. The illustrations are beautiful. It’s like Norman Rockwell stuff. The cover is so gorgeous…. This is just an adorable book because it puts aging in the context of fabulous memories… So the question is: if it said ‘Grandmother’s Wrinkles,’ would I be as enthusiastic? Yes.”

From The Horn Book Guide
…Lucy wonders where the wrinkles on her grandfather’s face came from. Granddad explains that each wrinkle was made by an especially big smile–when he got married, when Lucy’s mom was born, when Lucy herself was born. Realistic paintings alternate between the present day showing Lucy with her grandfather and flashbacks to earlier events.

From Edwards Book Club
This wonderful children’s book will delight young ones, parents, and grandparents alike. The walk-down-memory lane tale opens with Lucy asking her Granddad, “Why doesn’t your skin fit you anymore? It’s all crinkly.”  Adults will smile. Children will be curious to hear the answer. Through beautiful illustrations and carefully crafted words, Lucy learns that Granddad has a special memory for each and every one of his wrinkles. Lucy loves to hear about special memories about Granddad marrying Lucy’s Grandma, the day Lucy’s mom was born, and the day that Lucy came into Granddad’s life. One by one, Lucy points to a wrinkle, and, without even a pause, Granddad happily obliges with a story. This is a special story about the love between a little girl and her grandfather, but it also teaches children about the value of memories and the love family members have for each other. What Kaitlyn (age 5) liked: the nice pictures, when Granddad was remembering the time when Lucy’s mom fell into the toy box, when Granddad was remembering about Lucy being born.

My grandchildren sometimes question me about the various creases, spots and saggy spots that have appeared in my face over the years. I’m not as clever as the Granddad of this story. When his granddaughter Lucy questions him about his “crinkles,” he has a good explanation, and one that will bring him and his granddaughter even closer together. Smiles Into Wrinkles: “I have lived a very long time and I have wrinkles from smiling so often,” Granddad tells Lucy. When Lucy asks him about a particular wrinkle, he links it to the day he got married. The next page of the book shows a much-younger Granddad and his bride about to make their getaway in a 50s-era automobile. The story continues with Lucy asking about more wrinkles. Each one draws a memory from Granddad about a major life event, and each memory is accompanied by a detailed illustration. Granddad’s final recollection is of the day that Lucy was born.

From A Life’s Journey
Author Kathryn England had an altogether charming inspiration for this book, but much of the magic comes from illustrator Richard McFarland. The picture spreads that show the different stages of Granddad’s life lovingly reproduce the different eras, with appropriate styles of clothing, hairdos and furniture. They have a retro, traditional look that is perfect for this storyline. Grandfather’s Wrinkles is from Flashlight Press, a company that is responsible for several more of my favorites. Wishes for One More Day is another heartwarming tale, but the grandkids love the zany antics of Silly Frilly Grandma Tillie. The Bottom Line: This is a children’s book that is great for preschoolers. I suspect it will be enjoyed even more by the adults in the family. McFarland’s illustrations are sure to intrigue grown-ups who remember the eras that he depicts. I think the grandchildren will enjoy this book. I’m certain grandparents will. Buy it for your grandchildren, and then read it whenever you like. I won’t tell.

From The Baton Rouge Advocate
Touching illustrations of the interaction between Granddad and Lucy only add to the sweetness of this book, which would make a great gift for your grandchildren.

From IthacaChild
The connection between Lucy and her grandfather is touching and genuine, causing this book to exude warmth and love.

From The Ithaca Journal
Realistic watercolor illustrations show a grandpa as a young man up to present day. Grandpa tells his granddaughter about each laugh line on his face and the joyful event that set it in place.

From My Shelf
“…a strongly touching book for adults and a warm hug for young children….a cozy treat for read-aloud time.”

From Lane Book Review Program
Grandfather’s Wrinkles is a heartwarming read-aloud picture book about the bonds of family, …a journey through the happy moments of life. The descriptive writing is beautifully complimented by the pastel colored pencil and watercolor illustrations. Evocative of the nostalgic tone of I’ll Love You Forever, this book is certain to appeal to children, parents and grandparents.  This well-bound hardback is a 5-star book.

From Midwest Book Review
Grandfather’s Wrinkles is an enchanting children’s picture book about the bonds of family… A heartwarming read-aloud picture book meant to be shared between grandparents and grandchildren. 

From Amazon customer
My four year old has made some really funny comments to her grandmothers about their wrinkles. She told my poor mother that she would surely die the day after tomorrow, she was so wrinkled. (And she’s really not!) The remarks provided never ending fodder for family jokes, so when I stumbled across this title and took a peek inside, I had to get the book. I gave it to my daughter on her birthday and told the grandparents as she was unwrapping it that it was a party game called “Who can read this without crying?” My Dad read it aloud and we adults all got weepy – the story is just so amazingly sweet. It reaffirms the beauty and preciousness of age. That’s a wonderful thing in our youth-idolizing culture.

From 3rd Grade Reading Net
Great class read aloud or, since the reading level is third grade, students could read to younger classes. This book could be a model for those third grade classes that do biographies and follow up with a literacy activity of writing their personal biographies. They could do a project where they record all the happy events of their parents’ and/or their grandparents’ life, like Granddad does with his wrinkles. The book could be used in art class for a portrait lesson, especially since the book has paintings of Granddad and Grandma at different stages of their lives… A really charming book.

“Every Wrinkle Tells a Story: Huntley grandfather illustrates first children’s book” See the full feature on illustrator Richard McFarland in the Northwest Herald.

From Corner on Character, Barbara Gruener
 In this heartwarming dialogue between Granddad and his inquisitive granddaughter Lucy, the lost art of storytelling emerges as the vehicle whereby the elder recounts the happy events behind his every wrinkle. This intergenerational story puts a positive spin on the aging process, sending the message that it’s important to appreciate, reflect upon, and enjoy one’s journey through life. Its beautiful scrapbookstyle illustrations by Richard McFarland enhance and enrich the tale. At a time when communicating by laptop is all but replacing sitting and visiting atop a lap, this treasure offers a refreshingly creative way to trip down Memory Lane. I found myself yearning for more laptime with my own grandparents. Do yourself a favor: find a lap, connect with someone special, share this book aloud, and get ready to pass along a few wrinkles of your own.  

About the Creators

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Kathryn England is the author of Grandfather’s Wrinkles, illustrated by Richard McFarland. Kathryn began writing when she was in her 40s and has been a prolific writer since then. In addition to her adult fiction which has appeared in many Australian magazines, Kathryn’s junior novels have been published by Lothian Books, Barrie Publishing, Macmillan Education Australia, and Wendy Pye Limited. She had a non-fiction book published by Scholastic Australia and her children’s fiction and non-fiction have appeared in Scholastic Australia Lucky Magazine, The School Magazine of the NSW Department of Education, Pearson Education Australia Spinouts Series and a Reading and Language Arts Assessment Program of McGraw-Hill America. Kathryn is married, has four children and three grandchildren, and lives in Penrith, Australia.


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Richard McFarland is the illustrator of Grandfather’s Wrinkles, written by Kathryn England. Born in Chicago, he spent most of his childhood summers visiting family in Texas where he learned to appreciate the great outdoors and began to use nature in his art. One particular picture of a bobcat, with amazingly realistic eyes that appeared to follow you around the room, won Richard a scholarship to the Art Institute of Chicago. He worked as a retouch artist for a large printer in Chicago, perfecting his skills through the years, which in turn laid the foundation for the exceptionally life-like portraits that he paints today. One of his most beautiful works is titled Somewhere in Time, after the movie of the same name. Richard was commissioned to paint the stars, Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve, standing in front of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan, the romantic setting for their movie. This is Richard’s first picture book, and he really is a grandfather – with wrinkles. Compare Richard’s photo on the back flap of Grandfather’s Wrinkles with the grandpa in the book for a great surprise. Richard lives in Huntley, Illinois with his wife, Fran.

Book Details

ISBN: HC 9780972922593  SC 9781947277403  ePDF 9781936261055  ePUB 9781936261048  KF8 9781936261239  
Print Length: 32 Full Color Pages
Publication Date: April 2007
Age Group: 3-7
Lexile Measure: 730L
Word Count: 484
Foreign Edition
: Chinese

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Leveling Information

Lexile Measurements provided by Metametrics. Guided Reading Levels provided by Marla Conn using Fountas and Pinnel Guided Reading Text Characteristics.

Lexile Display: AD600L

Word Count: 476

MSL: 10.128

MLF: 3.615

Decoding Display: High

Semantic Display: High

Syntactic Display: Very High

Structure Display: Very High 

Guided Reading Level: M

Grade Level Equivalent: 2

Interest Level by Grade: Pre-K-5

Educational Description: Picture book, realistic fiction

Story Elements: setting: home, plot and character development; main characters Lucy and grandfather, humorous, sweet tone, ask and answer questions, flashback, figurative language: simile, metaphor, realistic illustrations enhance meaning and tone

Comprehension Strategies: identify cause and effect relationships, changes from beginning to end of the story, and central message, make inferences, draw conclusions, predict outcomes and make text-to-self connections

Themes: grandfather & granddaughter relationship, family, love, aging, life’s experiences