Grandpa Green by Lane Smith was one of the American Library Association (ALA) Caldecott Award Honorees for 2012. The Caldecott Award recognizes the most distinguised picture book for children.
Here is the summary from Amazon:
Grandpa Green wasn't always a gardener. He was a farmboy and a kid with chickenpox and a soldier and, most of all, an artist. In this captivating new picture book, readers follow Grandpa Green's great-grandson into a garden he created, a fantastic world where memories are handed down in the fanciful shapes of topiary trees and imagination recreates things forgotten.
In his most enigmatic and beautiful work to date, Lane Smith explores aging, memory, and the bonds of family history and love; by turns touching and whimsical, it's a stunning picture book that parents and grandparents will be sharing with children for years to come.
This book was so touching and the illustrations only enhanced it. I will admit, I got a little teary while reading it (in the middle of Barnes & Noble). Grandpa Green had dreams that were sometimes sidetracked (by life happening). He becomes a gardener, goes to fight in WWII, meets his wife and has a family. Now, Grandpa is getting a little older, and has trouble remembering---so he cuts them into the topiaries.
His great-grandson is so proud of him and the work that he does. Its really just a touching read.
And that was just the story---the illustrations were why it won! Done in greens and other muted tones, the illustrations of the topiaries are really what add depth to the story by showing Grandpa's memories.
I am challenging myself to read all the Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, Pura Belpre (author and illustrator), and Geisel award winners for this year.