Bespectacled, exuberant Grandpa is every child's wish come true. In this tender story, three children visiting their grandfather learn about the good old days before people sat for hours in front of the television. The children excitedly follow Grandpa up the steep, wooden steps to the attic, barely hearing Grandma's call that dinner will be ready in an hour. The attic is overflowing with memories from Grandpa's days as a vaudeville song and dance man. Faded posters of Grandpa hang on the walls, and to the children's delight, Grandpa pulls out a dusty, old leather-trimmed trunk. While Grandpa unearths his tap shoes with the silver, half-moon taps, his bowler hat and gold-tipped cane, the children try on hats and pretend they are dancing on the vaudeville stage. Then it's Grandpa's turn to dance and his old tap shoes make it sound like soft rain is falling on a tin roof.
Song-and-Dance man Grandpa can do it all, proving the well-worn adage that you're only as old as you feel. He taps out a variety of steps, sings, plays the banjo, performs magic tricks, tells jokes, and gets the children laughing so hard they all get hiccups. When the children recover, Grandpa regales them with a fantastic finale, and the children beg for more. After the show, the vaudeville trappings are put back to bed in their trunk, and Grandpa explains that he'd never trade the good old days of song and dance for the days he spends with his grandchildren.
Told from the children's point of view, the text is understated and charming, with a true admiration for the older generation. The superbly rendered illustrations won artist Stephen Gammell a Caldecott Medal; his soft, colored-pencil drawings explode with affection and nostalgia, and are full of an apt vitality that seems to dance right off the page. This story is sure to enlarge the most devout television-watcher's idea of entertainment.