Stones for Grandpa

  • Interest Level: Kindergarten - Grade 3
  • Reading Level: Grade 2

A little boy and his family gather at the cemetery for the unveiling of his grandpa’s gravestone, bringing stones to place on the grave, in the Jewish custom. They tell stories that help the boy deal with his loss, reminding him of the wonderful memories he has of his grandpa.

Format Your Price Add
Interest Level Kindergarten - Grade 3
Reading Level Grade 2
Genre Picture Books
Copyright 2013
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Kar-Ben Publishing ®
Language English
Number of Pages 24
Publication Date 2013-01-01
Text Type Fiction
BISACS JUV033020, JUV039030, JUV013030
Dewey [E]
Graphics Full-color illustrations
Dimensions 9.5 x 9.75
Features Awards, Original artwork, and Reviewed


  • Missouri State Teacher's Association Reading Circle Selection, Winner, 2014
  • Sydney Taylor Book Award Honor, Runner-up, 2014
  • Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year, Winner, 2014
  • Booklist Top 10 Religion and Spirituality Books for Youth, Winner, 2013


Library Media Connection

“The author treats a tough topic with a nice touch, and the illustrations create an endearing visual accompaniment.” —Library Media Connection

School Library Journal

“A gentle and moving account of a child’s grief during the first year following his grandfather’s death….This reassuring tale is a solid addition to Judaic collections or for libraries needing additional titles that address death and grief.” —School Library Journal

Publishers Weekly

“Londner (Ruby’s Whistle) and Avilés (The Shabbat Princess) present a small boy as he observes two of the distinctly Jewish rituals of mourning: the unveiling of his beloved grandfather’s tombstone (which traditionally occurs one year after a death) and the placing of stones on the tombstone by visitors to the grave (‘It’s a way of showing that we have been here to remember,’ explains the boy’s father). The event prompts melancholy reflection on Jewish holidays that have passed without Grandpa (‘It was the first Hanukkah without Grandpa spinning his lucky dreidel’), but the rituals also help the boy understand that ‘memories made of someone you love never get lost.’ Londner handles a difficult topic with great sensitivity and admirable restraint, while Avilés’s verdant scenes at the cemetery are beautifully realized; she reassures children that this sad and even scary setting can be a place of solace and fond celebration.” —Publishers Weekly

AJL Newsletter

“Grandpa Duke taught his young grandson many lessons, such as how to wish on a shooting star, tie Boy Scout knots, and be brave when catching a frog. However, the hardest lesson he passes on is how to accept a loved one’s death. When the little boy accompanies his parents to the unveiling of Grandpa Duke’s tombstone, he recalls the difficult first year of celebrating the holidays without his grandfather’s reassuring presence. He also remembers special times with Grandpa Duke as he looks through the keepsake box filled with Grandpa’s belongings and sits on his mother’s lap viewing family photographs. When the boy becomes scared that he may wake up one morning and forget his grandfather, his mother reassures him that ‘memories made of someone you love never get lost’. The idea of remembrance is reinforced as family members and friends gather at the cemetery to share stories about Grandpa Duke and to place stones on his monument. Aviles’ illustrations are done using acrylic paints on Italian paper and are rendered with a softness which echoes the text’s soothing tone. Stones for Grandpa is a gentle approach to a difficult topic and can be recommended to parents along with Wishes for One More Day by Melanie Joy Pastor (Flashlight Press, 2006) and Where is Grandpa Dennis? by Michelle Shapiro Abraham (URJ Press, 2009) as potential keys to unlock a child’s silent grieving and to promote a healing conversation.”—AJL Newsletter

Kirkus Reviews

“Writing a picture book about grief is a difficult job; Londner accomplishes it by writing about something else: life.

This is a story that works because it has more detail than necessary. When the narrator is remembering his grandfather, he’s very specific:‘“Grandpa taught me how to tie six different Boy Scout knots.’ When Avilés draws Grandpa in a cowboy hat (he’s marching in a parade for Purim), a gold star is pinned on the front. This is a book about gravestones and memorial services, but even a scene in a cemetery includes more than one emotion: ‘People smile when they see the name ‘Duke’ along with Grandpa’s real name. That was his nickname….Grandpa Duke and I watched John Wayne movies together, and he let me wear his cowboy hat.’ This is a story about grief, but it’s also about cowboys and parades and the best way to catch a frog, and some readers may have the strange experience of missing a person they never knew. The story is so very packed with detail it’s as though the author wanted to write one that contained all of life. She didn’t succeed, of course. It would have been impossible.

This is a book that celebrates a life, full of Boy Scout knots and costume parties, and that’s more than enough.”—Kirkus Reviews

Author: Renee Londner

Renee Londner is the author of children's books including Ruby's Whistle and Stones for Grandpa, a Sydney Taylor Honor Book. Her stories have also appeared in magazines including Jewish Family, Shofar, and Spider. She lives in Connecticut.

Illustrator: Martha Avilés

Martha Avilés was born and raised in Mexico City. She has illustrated many children's books including Say Hello, Lily; The Shabbat Princess; and Stones for Grandpa.