Monday, August 27, 2012

Remember? Really and Truly by Emilie Rivard

When I was little, my grandpa used to tell me lots of stories.

Some days he'd say, "Charlie, did I ever tell you about the pirate who lives in my attic?"

Now...Grandpa doesn't tell stories anymore.

When we walk in the room, he doesn't even turn around. The cars driving by outside are more interesting that we are. Mom just lets Grandpa look out the window. I can tell it makes her sad.

Charlie worries about how he can make Grandpa remember who they are. He struggles to think of a way to make him look at them and to give them that well-remembered smile of his.

Finally, Charlies tries something new. He remembers something Grandpa used to do when
he was little and wouldn't eat his dinner. As Granpa ignores his dinner, Charlie decides to try the same technique.

"I am Mansa, the most famous hunter in all Africa," said Charlie. "I hunt only the most tender, most delicious gazelles for you.... Don't you want to try a bite?"

At first Grandpa looks surprised. He raises an eyebrow. Then he pokes his fork into a meatball.... Little by little, he eats everything on his plate.

It is a small but satisfying success. And then Charlie remembers something which may coax that longed-for smile back from wherever it has gone. Wearing an impromptu cape, he proclaims that he is another of Grandpa's fantastical characters--the Great Albini, come to perform the most magical trick of all. Will Grandpa look at him with a really and truly smile?

Abracadabra super spaghetti.
Abracadabra rainbow confetti,
Come out, smile, come out and play!

In Emilie Rivard's Really and Truly (Owlkids Books, 2012) Charlie and his mom enjoy a brief moment of contact with Grandpa, a small moment but a needed one in what is really and truly a sad but common experience of the painful loss in dealing with dementia. Rivard's straightforward text and artist Anne-Claie Delisle's sensitive illustrations make this picture book a good way to begin the difficult conversation with a child about this difficult subject.

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