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What's Happening to Grandpa? Hardcover – April 28, 2004
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From School Library Journal
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
PreS-Gr.3. Written from a child's viewpoint, these two picture books tell the story of a beloved grandfather with Alzheimer's disease. In Faraway Grandpa, set nearly a century ago, Kathleen visits her Grandpa Danny every summer, and they have uproarious fun together. He loves shenanigans, he teases her, and together they bellow out his song from Ireland, "Danny Boy." But one year, he forgets that she's coming, and eventually he comes to live with her family. He hides in her closets and does other silly things. He makes trouble with the neighbors, and he even forgets her name. But he remembers things from long ago, and always, he and Kathleen share the melancholy song. The old-fashioned setting distances the story, but it also shows that the illness is not new. In Rand's warm, pencil-and-watercolor paintings and Karim's short, unrhymed lines the quiet scenarios of hurt and humiliation and heartfelt love tell the truth.
In contrast, Shriver's characters are absolutely perfect, and her scenarios are pure bliss. Gushy words and misty pastel illustrations depict family members across three generations as unfailingly kind, strong, and understanding. Young Kate is "curious, sensitive, and wise beyond her age," and Grandpa had an "absolutely happy" life. Yet how supportive is this scenario when a child trying to cope with a beloved, ailing grandparent feels (and sees family members feeling) irritation, anger, and guilt? There will be many requests for this; it has been widely promoted and endorsed by Nancy Reagan. But the purposive story isn't what works; it's the information woven into the fiction. The clear facts about the disease, what to expect (Will Mom get it? Will Kate?), and how to cope are supported by an excellent list of resources and organizations to contact. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top Customer Reviews
-Jacqueline Marcell, Author 'Elder Rage, or Take My Father... Please! How to Survive Caring for Aging Parents', International Speaker on Eldercare & Alzheimer's
One Sunday, Kate noticed her grandfather kept telling the same stories and he couldn't remember what he had just done. She knew as people got older some would have trouble hearing, walking and reading. But when she saw her grandfather have a tantrum about not being able to drive anymore and how upset it made her grandmother, she finally asked her mom "what's happening to grandpa?"
Teaching a child about Alzheimer's can be a difficult task. Shriver has done an excellent job of creating a book that educates and inspires young readers. This is a perfect gift for any family dealing with Alzheimers. It brings to life how precious and important our elders are in our lives.
Soft watercolor pictures accompany meaningful text to describe families from all backgrounds as they begin the long and sometimes painful journey with seniors as their memories fade, they repeat themselves, can't remember things, and ask the same questions over and over.
Meant for older children, this book is a wonderful starting point to begin discussions of this topic with classes and/or your children at home.
So thorough is the coverage in this book that it even includes a wealth of additional resources in the back pages with websites and 800 #'s for further information on Alzheimer's education and aging.