The kids are treated to a special event during a stay at grandpa and grandma’s house. Grandpa regaled the children with a story of his past life, before TV, when people entertained each other with music and song. Showing the kids his attic full of props and costumes, grandpa puts on a grand performance for the kids.
Stephen Gammell’s beautifully colored illustrations really bring this story to life. The text itself is very fluid and descriptive, but the illustrations are really the selling point. There are beautiful rainbow shadows following the kids and their grandfather as they make their up to the attic. The spotlight behind Grandpa as he performs glows brighter and brighter on each page. It’s really a wonderful way to take the story to a new level of imagination and curiosity.
As soon as Grandpa opens it, the smell of cedar chips and old things saved fills the attic. Inside are his shoes with the silver,half-moon taps on the toes and heels, bowler hats and top hats, and vests with stripes and matching bow ties. We try on the hats and pretend we’re dancing on a vaudeville stage, where the bright lights twinkle and the piano player nods his head along with the music.
I definitely recommend reading this book with older children. There is plenty of room for “what was life like back then” discussions, especially explaining vaudeville and life before technology and TV.