Wednesday, April 02, 2008


MY LITTLE GRANDMOTHER OFTEN FORGETS by Reeve Lindbergh, illustrated by Kathryn Brown (Candlewick)
My little grandmother
often forgets
about glasses and teacups
and clothing and pets.
She doesn't know why,
and she doesn't know how;
when she thinks about THEN,
she forgets about NOW.

...My little grandmother
says, "Hello, Roy!"
But Roy was my dad's name
when he was a boy.
So I say, "I'm not Roy,"
and she answers, "You're not?"
Then I tell her, "I'm Tom.
That's okay. You forgot."
It is sometimes worrisome for children and their families when grandparents call them by the wrong name, but here is a book that deals with issues of impending senility and Alzheimer's in a way that readers will recognize. Rather than heavy-handed bibliotherapy, My Little Grandmother reads like a friendship story between a patient little boy and and older family member. Behaviors like repetitions in conversation, periods of quiet, and issues of safety all receive a blessedly light and age-appropriate touch through well-paced verse and cheerful watercolor and ink illustrations. The dearness of the aging person is never undermined, nor is the helpful role of the child.

Reeve Lindbergh (yes, the youngest daughter of aviator Charles Lindbergh) is a consistently excellent author for children, and this is her second original foray into the world of aging and grandparents (baby boomer's delight, MY HIPPIE GRANDMOTHER with illustrations by Abby Carter, being the first). This latest title crosses generations to acknowledge that even when the memory goes, the heart remains, and may be an even more direct and loving treatment for kids than Mem Fox's similarly-themed and popular WILFRED GORDON McDONALD PATRIDGE. The relationship of a child and a grandparent is something so precious, so don't forget to add these and other intergenerational gems celebrating that rare connection to your collection. (5 and up)

Also of interest:
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE OLD? by Norma Farber, illustrated by the inimitable Trina Schart Hyman (Puffin) A grandma gives the straight dope, in free verse. High spirited, honest and graced with beautifully evocative drawings, the reader can appreciate how the spirit of the grandparent is carried on in the grandchild. Absolutely the best book on the subject of aging for kids, it is scandalously out-of-print (but available used at Amazon Z-shops and at your public library). This book answers a lot of questions young children may have, and serves as a great classroom discussion springboard for middle-school students as well. (7 and up)

MAKEOVERS BY MARCIA by Claudia Mills (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) Marcia is less than thrilled when she discovers her eighth grade community service project will entail visits to the local nursing home. Distracted by pre-teen concerns like her perceived weight gain, difficulties in art class and the upcoming dance, working with a bunch of old people is last on her list. When her savvy sister suggests she combine her talent and interest in makeup with her requisite visits, it sets off a series of connections that, in the end, help Marcia get her priorities straight. Marcia's magazine-inspired machinations backfire hilariously, and her relationships with the elderly blossom in a way that is both believable and uncontrived. Emotional depth, laugh-out-loud humor and a rhythm that matches the heartbeat of its intended audience mark this well-written story that will inspire community service, self-esteem and an appetite for more books by this author. (10 and up)

On a personal note:
Congratulations to SHEILA, who posted her favorite picks of 2007, for winning the drawing for a copy of the VIVE LA PARIS audiobook! Sheila, your post didn't include your address or contact 4-1-1, so shoot me a comment with that info (won't be posted publicly) and I'll get it in the mail to you this weekend! Thanks to all who participated and shared.
Happy Poetry Month! Check out the PlanetEsme Poetry Power page, and check back through the month for the latest picks.
This post is dedicated with love to Rosalie Codell, my sparkly and glamorous grandmother who sometimes forgot, but who won't be soon forgotten. August 6, 1921 - March 27, 2008.

Links are provided for informational use. Don't forget to support your local bookseller.


Mary Lee said...

Great post, important topic, and most of all, condolences. I'm thinking her granddaughter inherited some of the sparkly and glamorous! Grandma lives on in you.

Jenny Schwartzberg said...

Your description of the Little Grandmother reminded me of a book I recently purchased, La petite rapporteuse des mots, by Danielle Simard, with illustrations by Genevieve Cote. It's a Canadian children's book in French, which won the Governor General's prize in 2007. It's also about a grandmother who forgets what she was going to say, and her granddaughter Elise who figures out what she was going to say and says it for her. The little word catcher is the exact translation of the title. It's a wonderful and very moving book. I'm hoping it will be translated into English. if you google it, you can find it at various Canadian sites.

Also, my condolences on your grandmother's death. I still miss my grandmothers 20 years after their deaths. They live on in my memory though.


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