Grandma and Me

A Kid’s Guide for Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Children - Educational
44 Pages
Reviewed on 04/28/2018
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Grandma and Me: A Kid’s Guide for Alzheimer’s and Dementia is a social/health issues book for children written by Beatrice Tauber Prior Psy.D. and Mary Ann Drummond RN and illustrated by Julia Walther. Who is Grandma? She’s a little boy’s best friend. She’s the one who shows him all the different flowers and plants in her garden, and teaches him how to identify a bird by its song. Grandma likes to tell stories about the past, about when his dad was a boy and even when Grandma herself was young. Grandma always has hard candy in her pocket; candy that is fun to crunch and oh, so sweet. Sometimes lately, Grandma seems to be a little different. Sometimes, she calls him by his dad’s name, or she doesn’t want to go out with him into the garden where they have so much fun together. His mom has explained to him that Grandma is going through some changes that are associated with a disease called Alzheimer’s. It’s not something he can catch, however, and he and Grandma can still have a lot of fun being together.

Grandma and Me: A Kid’s Guide for Alzheimer’s and Dementia describes the changes that may affect a child’s relationship with a grandparent, who has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, in a way that kids can understand and relate to. The authors stress that kids shouldn’t feel responsible for their grandparent’s mood swings or feel badly if their grandparent mixes up their names or identities. They show positive and inspiring ways for kids to continue having warm and loving interactions with their grandparents by “meeting them where they are” on their life’s journey. They also discuss how kids can tell the stories they loved hearing back to their grandparents and how much enjoyment that can bring to both the child and grandparent. I found something immeasurably valuable on every page of this caring and warm book. I love Julia Walther’s gorgeous watercolors, which make Grandma’s garden and carefully tended plants come to life so well. This beautiful book handles a difficult subject with grace and consummate skill, and will help kids make the most of their time with grandparents who have Alzheimer’s or other mental health issues. Grandma and Me: A Kid’s Guide for Alzheimer’s and Dementia is most highly recommended.

Lesley Jones

In Grandma and Me: A Kid’s Guide for Alzheimer’s and Dementia by Beatrice Tauber Prior Psy.D. and Mary Ann Drummond RN, Mathew loves spending time with his Grandma. She teaches him all about the different animals and plants in her garden, and together they share a love of nature. Then one day Grandma is different, she is no longer able to tell him stories or walk around her garden. Mathew is worried that he will never have a close relationship with his beloved Grandma again. Then Mathew learns that he and Grandma can have a new type of relationship. It is now his turn to tell her stories, and sing to her when she is feeling unwell. He knows that it is her illness that makes her act differently. Mathew now understands the symptoms of Alzheimer's and knows that Grandma will always love him.

I found this story very poignant and well-written. The authors are obviously extremely knowledgeable on the subject of Alzheimer's and dementia, but the way they have created a story to help young children understand is fantastic. I especially loved the explanation of how the brain’s functioning alters, and the ‘meet me where I am' care. The language and illustrations used are perfect for parents to help explain such a complex and upsetting subject to their children. The relationship between the young boy and his grandmother was very touching, and one that many children would relate to. The whole message was uplifting and positive. An huge thumbs up to the authors; this is an exceptional book and one that will help children remain close to any loved one who suffers with this illness.

Jane Finch

Grandma and Me: A Kid’s Guide for Alzheimer’s and Dementia by Beatrice Tauber Prior Psy.D. and Mary Ann Drummond RN tells the story of a young boy named Matthew who has a very special relationship with his Grandma. He enjoys visiting her garden and she tells him about the birds and the flowers and the insects. Even when he gets stung by a bee, Matthew doesn’t mind too much as his Grandma treats the sting with special cream. Matthew is saddened that sometimes his Grandma is not feeling well, or doesn’t understand questions, or gets confused about the date, or sometimes even calls Matthew by his father’s name. This is because at times Grandma thinks Matthew is her son rather than her grandson. Grandma might sometimes be sad, but Matthew knows how to cheer her up and how to make her laugh.

This story is very sensitively written, explaining what is happening to Grandma and why things are changing. The book is written with the intention of an adult reading the book to a child, which gives the opportunity for the child to ask any questions, or talk about any concerns they may have about the behaviour or change in someone suffering from dementia. The book is beautifully illustrated by Julia Walther with soft colours and appealing characterisations, making this a very useful tool for explaining such a sensitive subject. The authors have also added some useful information which helps the adult reader too. Altogether a skillfully crafted book to help explain what can be a confusing situation for children.