Grandma Z – Written and Illustrated by Daniel Gray – Barnett

Book cover for Grandma Z

Grandma Z has made the 2019 Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book of the Year Short List for Crichton Award for New Illustrator.  This book is the first publication for author and illustrator Daniel Gray-Barnett and it is a ripper.

On an ordinary day, in an even more ordinary town, it was Albert’s birthday.

Every year, no matter how much he wished it was different…

…it was just like every other extremely ordinary day.

Poor Albert lives a very ordinary life with a father who doesn’t like mess and a mother who doesn’t like noise, so there will be no party or cake on his special day.

That is until he closes his eyes and makes a birthday wish…

Like a magical fairy godmother, a woman whom Albert had never met, yet recognises from photo albums, appears at the front door to take him on a most unordinary adventure.

It’s his Grandma Z!

Together this eccentric, blue fur coat wearing Grandma and the staid, suit wearing Albert rev off on a motorbike to celebrate Albert’s special day.  Their adventure takes them across the globe and they get to meet all sort of different and wonderful people and creatures.

Grandma Z is a celebration of the very special relationship between grandparents and grandchildren.  The book is a visual feast that explores the themes of play, adventure and most importantly, imagination.

Daniel Gray-Barnett is an extraordinary self-taught illustrator and his nomination for the CBCA New Illustrator Award is well deserved.

“My illustrations are a mix of ink, pencil and digital techniques.  My illustrations are put together from layers of shapes and lines drawn in ink and pencil, which I draw using a lightbox and then scan them into the computer before I arrange and colour them on Photoshop”        Daniel Gray-Barnett

He amps up the colour as the story becomes more exciting and his use of the limited colour palate of blue and orange add to the impact of this work.  But, his art is not the only thing that shines in this book.  The text flows beautifully and Gray-Barnett’s turn of phrase is magical.

Albert got a fluttery feeling in his stomach like one hundred Monarch butterflies coming out of their cocoons.

Grandma Z is a beautiful story about the gift of giving a child the space to play and use their imagination and how this space can become lost in the busyness of ordinary life.  It is an extraordinary book and I can whole-heartedly recommend it to all readers.

Grandma Z is a wild ride.