You're going to need plans and a project at the ready!


A boy wants a dollhouse for his birthday, so when Grandpa gives him a toolbox, he is less than enthused. As Grandpa goes on to show him all the tools and tell stories about the things he's built over the years, his disappointment grows. Still, as sad as he is about his gift, he says "thank you" and gives grandpa a hug. Then he tries to find a place to hide the gift so he can forget about it.  When he spots a bird looking at its nest on the ground, the boy gets an idea! He goes to Grandpa for help, and from there he gets even more ideas! Turns out a toolbox is a pretty cool gift.

Parent Perspective:
I had read When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree, so my expectations were pretty high. This story did not disappoint, and I think I might like it even more than the grandma book. The concepts are similar and I love that despite their disappointment, the kids are respectful and show gratitude for their gifts. What pushed this to the top for me is the opener: the boy wants a house for his dolls! The boy and his family also appear to be South Asian. Y-E-S! No gender stereotyping AND diversity. 

When you buy this book - and you definitely want to do that! - pair it with either a child-friendly toolbox or a project like a birdhouse. Whomever you read this with is going to want to make something as soon as you are finished.

Reader Enjoyment Factors:

The "birthday" will get your reader interested in the book, the idea of building "stuff" will get them excited. A great story of gratitude and recognizing potential that you didn't initally see!

Content Awareness Factors:


Type of Book:
This is a picture book about turning something that seems disappointing into realizing how awesome it is.
Educational Themes:

The events in the book create great opportunities to talk about things that aren't always easy for kids: gratitude, being patient with elders, cooperation, and listening. Ask your young readers what they see on the page. Have they ever had those kinds of feelings?

Be prepared to head into the garage to look for some tools and supplies to create your own projects. The boy and his grandfather build a birdhouse. That's always a great carpentry project for kids. We found a list of 32 Woodworking Projects to do with kids at You can also get pre-made kits at local craft stores or [contains affiliate link]

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
8 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
4 and Up
Purchase Recommendation:
Buy! Get one for your bookshelf and one for your kids to give as gifts to friends.

Title When Grandpa Gives You a Toolbox
Author Jamie L. B. Deenihan
Publisher Sterling Children's Books, Imprint Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. © 2020
Illustrators Lorraine Rocha
ISBN 9781454932321
Material Hard Cover
Cost $16.95
Genres Family, Life Lessons, Jobs
Reminder: Cover images, and links are affiliate links. The Reading Tub can earn income via purchases made via these links. 100% of any income goes directly to our literacy mission.

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