Kid Lit Dish

Kim's Magical Journey Into the World of Children's Picture Books

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Remember, Grandma?

on September 21, 2012

I was browsing in Ian’s school library earlier this week and came across this little gem.  At first glance, I thought the title was “Remember Grandma” — so I thought it was about a child’s memory of her departed grandmother.  When I peeked inside, however, I realized that this book is about a little girl who is realizing that her dear grandmother is slowly but surely losing her memory… and along with that, all recognition of her and her family.

Remember, Grandma?

Written by Laura Langston; Illustrated by Lindsey Gardiner
Viking Children’s; May 2004
Suitable for: Age 5+

Theme/Topics: Grandparents, Family, Loss, Illness

Opening Lines:
My grandma lives with us now because she can’t remember.
She is not the wrinkled kind; she’s the special kind instead.
She wears high-topped sneakers with yellow laces and she laughs very loud.
Once she had a houseboat and an art gallery by the sea.  
Then she played the piano and made mile-high apple pie.

Now 
she sits in
her special chair
and rocks quick,
quick,
quick

Synopsis:  Narrated in first person from the little girl’s point of view, this is a story of remembering– how a granddaughter first senses, then realizes the impact of her grandmother’s increasing senility… and how she copes.  From the book description: “Warm and accessible, Remember, Grandma? is an important book that will strike a chord with many readers. For families who have a relative facing memory loss, it may trigger important conversations. And for all children with aging family members, it provides gentle reassurance about the love within families that endures even when memory does not.”

Why I Like This Book:  This is a beautifully written and illustrated… and very poignant… little picture book.  One of the things that got to me were the illustrations of the grandma– especially her eyes, which are at once sad with remembering, and next confused with forgetfulness.  But through it all, she smiles, as does her granddaughter.  I was drawn to this book because of the cover of the little girl and her grandma, because I was especially close with my own grandmother up until the day she died… and that probably makes it all the more bittersweet for me, personally.

Aside from the illustrations, though, I think the language and the tone are just gorgeous.  And SO childlike.  For instance, when it’s clear that Grandma’s “forgetting” is getting worse, there’s a scene where the two are making an apple pie:

When I cut away the bruised parts,
Grandma stops me.

‘The bruised parts are best,’ she says.  
“All the sweetness in the apple
rushes to the soft brown part.”
Dad laughs, but Grandma insists.
“I remember,” she says.
“A fruit man told me once.”

We keep the bruised parts in
our mile-high apple pie.
Because Grandma remembered.

I mean come ON– how can you read that and NOT be moved?  That passage gets me every single time.

Resources: Laura Langston’s web site.  Also the back of the book contains a real mile-high apple pie recipe, which would be great to make with the kids as you discuss the book (especially the part about the bruised apples!)

For more “perfect picture books” (and to see the KidLit blogging world’s latest entries for today), visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday page.  I could spend every day on Susanna’s site!  (Actually, I think I do…) 😀   Happy Friday, everyone!!

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8 responses to “Perfect Picture Book Friday: Remember, Grandma?

  1. Oh, I really like this book. Such and important book to help grandchildren understand their aging grandparents who are struggling with dementia. And, I loved the line about the bruises on the apple — her memory of the past. Want to read this one!

  2. As soon as I saw the title, I had a feeling it would be about dealing with dementia — a difficult topic but so necessary. This book sounds as if it’s a caring and comfortable way for children and the adults in their life to learn about the difficulties and continued blessings of having a family member with dementia. Thank you for adding such an important and needed book to our PPBF list, Kim!

  3. Amy Dixon says:

    Oh my, I actually teared up when I was reading this review! I think we all have some experience or another with our grandparents…and forgetting…
    The illustrations are just lovely. Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. Oh what a wonderful book this sounds like, Kim! Such a heart-string tugger. And as someone whose kids are having to cope with this issue in a grandmother it’s all the more relatable. You are right – I haven’t even read the book and that bit you quoted made me misty! Thanks for adding this valuable book to our list!

  5. Oh, I WANT this book. What a beautiful intergenerational gem. Thank you for telling us about it and sharing your insights!

    Barbara
    corneroncharacter.blogspot.com

  6. Oh my goodness, Kim…I was moved to tears…and just by the little snippets you provided. What an amazing choices for PPBF! Thank you for bringing this to our attention…I doubt many have seen it before. 😉 I loved your review of it…and appreciate the resource list. This book is a must-have!

  7. Thanks so much for highlighting Remember, Grandma? on your blog, Kim! I’m always touched when I hear how the book moves people. It was a special story to write as it was based on circumstances in my own family. And I cried a few tears myself when I wrote the ending.

    • kidlitdish says:

      Thank you for visiting and for reading the review! It’s an honor to have you… as you can see from other comments, just the couple of passages that I quoted moved people (and everyone so far seems to want to get the book!) Thanks again!

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Welcome to Design of the Picture Book! I'm Carter Higgins, and I'm a writer and librarian for kids. I spent a spectacular stint as the Children's Book Editor at <a href="http://www.designmom.com/">Design Mom</a> which I loved! You can find my column <a href="http://www.designmom.com/category/childrens-lit/">here</a>.<br /> I'm a K-6 librarian, a former-ish graphic designer, an SCBWI member, and a huge fan of words and pictures.<br /> Represented by <a href="http://www.rpcontent.com/">Rubin Pfeffer of Rubin Pfeffer Content, LLC</a>.

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