I’ve often wondered if I could write a children’s book about Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s is a part of everyday life for many families. But because Alzheimer’s is so poorly understood and managed, even by adults, many children are ill prepared to cope. Kids are left to interpret changes in family dynamics and the cognitive decline of someone they know with very few references or expectations. They can feel very alone in their experiences- whether they are witnessing the devastation literally underfoot or watching it safely from the periphery.
It takes a direct and delicate voice to educate young children about the changes associated with dementia. Kids notice the cognitive changes, but they really feel the personality changes more.
I just read My New Granny by Elisabeth Steinkellner and found it to be a story that focuses on caregiving elements like loss, frustration, and guilt- common and relatable challenges- that are softened by Granny’s silly behavior as viewed through a child’s lens. Steinkellner does not shy away from the difficult emotional journey experienced by the entire family, and the “it’s not fair” lamentations are spot on.
Michael Roher’s whimsical illustrations in My New Granny are saturated in red hues of artistic expression. There is a warm familiarity about the friendly mouse that witnesses life with Alzheimer’s from a distance, reminiscent of the tiny mouse in Goodnight Moon that my own children loved so much. The mouse serves as a safe distraction from the discomfort of watching Granny take a bath or change her clothes, or even take a nap under the kitchen table. I applaud the use of exaggerated features that don’t falsely enhance or perpetuate unrealistic body images that already bombard our children. Granny is fleshy and beautiful!
Props for aging in the skin your in, Granny!
My New Granny is fresh approach to educating children about the struggles of life with Alzheimer’s. It models a change in perspective, and an appreciation for life in every form. It’s cute, and clever, and a safe read for kids.
Wish I had written it myself.
Elisabeth Steinkellner, Author
Michael Roher, Illustrator
Connie Straddling Morby, Translation
Sky Pony Press, Fiction, September 2012
This book, in electronic format, has been provided to me free of charge by the publisher in exchange for an honest review of the work. I am neither compensated for my reviews nor are my opinions influenced in any way.