Grandfather's Trolley (book cover)

Grandfather's Trolley

Hardcover: Available

only at Apple Island Books

Bruce's Thirty-fifth Book
1995 - Candlewick Press
Hardcover ISBN 1-56402-633-7
Former First Lady
Barbara Bush Reads
Grandfather's Trolley
Personal Note
Book's Original Art in Collections
Fan Mail

"McMillan achieves a fine nostalgia
that never sinks to melodrama...
This is one picturebook aimed
straight for the heart."

Maine in Print, March 1996

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Original Art In Collections
Work from the book, the original art, is in four public collections and can be seen on display at the following institutions.

The Mazza Collection Galleria at the University of Findlay, Findlay Ohio.

The Keene State College Festival Gallery Collection, Keene, New Hampshire.

The Springvale Public Library, Springvale, Maine.

The Kennebunk Free Library

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Personal Note
To take the reader back in time I used the same photographic techniques of the trolley era. I shot the book in black-and-white and handtinted the photos. It took about half-a-day to hand-tint each one.

My grandfather, Joseph Whitley, died many years before I was born. He worked for the Metropolitan Railroad Company from 1883 to 1901 when he was reassigned to the Boston Elevated Railway Company. In all, he worked for Boston trolley car companies from 1883 until he passed away in 1927 at age 65. His trolley license reads: "Be it known that Joseph Whitley has been duly licensed by the Board of Police Commissioners of the City of Boston to be a Driver of Street Cars used in the streets of said City."

I photographed the book at the
Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine where it's still possible for you to ride the trolleys. For a live view of the lighthouse, at the "end of the line" in the story, you can click on the Live web cam for Cape Porpoise, Maine.

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Grandfather's Trolley takes readers back to the trolley car days of the early 1900s as a little girl hops aboard a trolley car motored by her grandfather. She feels the breeze and sways with the trolley as it rolls along. Clackety-clackety, clackety-clack. But the best is yet to come: She will help her grandfather motor the trolley car home.

Using hand-tinted photographs that picture a time long ago, Bruce McMillan has captured the tender rapport that exists between grandchildren and their grandparents. And he leaves readers with a portrait that will keep alive the memory of a cherished grandfather.

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School Library Journal
December 1995

"Superbly executed... This is irresistible."

McMILLAN, Bruce.
Grandfather's Trolley.
illus. by author. unpaged. CIP. Candlewick 1995. RTE $15.95.
ISBN 1-56402-633-7. LC 95-10637.

PreS - Gr 2 Children don't need to understand the masterful photographic techniques to appreciate this bit of nostalgia set in the early 1900s. Grandfather, a trolley motorman, always saves a seat in the last row for his granddaughter, who then rides to the end of the line. On the return trip, she sits up front next to him. That's the story line but, combined with the artwork there is much, much more. Clearly evident are the love between the girl and the elderly man; the sights, sounds, and motion of the trolley; the summer breeze that blows the little girl's hair and makes her eyes squint; and the sheer delight of the day. McMillan took the photographs in black and white, brown-toned them, and hand tinted them with oil paints, replicating photographic methods used during the heyday of trolleys. As always, his work is superbly executed. For anyone who has ever ridden a trolley as a child, this is irresistible. For those too young to have had the pleasure it is evocative of life at a slower pace. Virginia Opocensky, formerly at Lincoln City Libraries, NE

This copyrighted © review originally appeared in School Library Journal and appears here with permission.

Children's Book Review Service Inc.
January 1996, Volume 24, No. 5

"Lots of joy and love
presented in a straightforward manner."

The Maine Sunday Telegram
December 3, 1995

"His books are always winners.
This one is especially dear,
transporting readers with a fantasy trip
on an old-fashioned trolley, following
a little girl and her grandfather-conductor."

Grand Rapids Press
Octber 13, 1996

"The past comes to life
as a young girl takes
a wondrous trolley car ride
motored by her grandfather."

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May 9, 2004

Dear Bruce:

Just wanted to say that until I stumbled onto Grandfather's Trolley (on a discount shelf - sorry!) I hadn't heard of you or knew of your forty-one other books -- I just knew that out of several thousand books in the store, that cover haunted me, called me to pick it up, and after I flipped through the book I knew I wanted it. For ME! I might show it to my two little boys, I might actually share, but I just had this weird feeling that this one was just for me. Bought two copies, actually. Flipped through it again tonight and wanted to see if there was some way to reach you on the web to say thanks . . . and what do you know, you're famous and well-read. Well, it figures.

Mostly I just wanted to say how much I loved the photographs. I'm a photographer myself, have had my work in Time Magazine and elsewhere, and I'm also a cinematographer, with shows I've shot on History Channel and others, but I still find myself looking through your amazing book and its haunting photography and thinking God, I wish I could do THAT... You capture something profound yet simple, and I'm pleased that others have discovered that and have written glowing reviews, but most importantly I just enjoy the odd little thrill I get deep inside when I flip through those pages. The image of Allie leaning back in the trolley seat, or the look on Grandfather's face, or the blur of the trolley and the soft focus at the edges... Wow.

(And somehow I'm pleased it wasn't all done with Photoshop!)

So now to figure a way to swing by Findlay, Ohio, Keene, New Hampshire, Springvale, Maine and the Kennebunk Free Library to see the originals!

Humbly and with gratitude --

Larry Herbst
Pasadena, CA

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