A Doll for Grandma: A Story about Alzheimer’s Disease
Paulette Bochnig Sharkey, Author
Samantha Woo, Illustrator
Beaming Books, Fiction, May 5, 2020
Suitable for ages: 4-8
Themes: Grandparents, Memory, Nursing Homes, Intergenerational relationships, Love
Opening: “Kiera and Grandma always found ways to have fun together.”
Kiera loves spending time with her grandma. They play dress up. They paint their nails. They make cookies for picnics with Kiera’s doll. But then Grandma starts to change. She starts misplacing items and forgetting how to do everyday tasks. Soon she has to move out of her home into a memory-care center for people with Alzheimer’s. She starts calling Kiera by a different name. Instead of driving around in her sporty car, her grandma travels in a wheelchair. Many times her Grandma stares out a window and doesn’t say much. Then Kiera has an idea and finds a new way to enjoy time with her Grandma.
Why I like this book:
A Doll for Grandma is heartwarming story for children facing a changing relationship with a beloved family member who has dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. It’s difficult for adults to cope with, but even more confusing for a child. It is also a lovely story about one of my favorite topics — intergenerational relationships.
Paulette Bochnig Sharkey’s sensitive approach of telling the story through a child’s eyes is so sweet and tender. Sharkey soothing narrative tells of the happy times together until one day Kiera finds her grandmother’s keys in the refrigerator. Other signs of memory issues appear. One day Kiera’s grandmother calls her “Sally Mae.” Kiera comes up with an idea that helps her connect with her grandmother.
Samantha Woo’s illustrations are cheerful and colorful. They lighten the mood on a heavy topic and focus on the positive. And they beautifully express the loving bond between Kiera and her grandmother.
Resource: A special page with information on helping children understand Alzheimer’s disease written by expert Judy Cornish, the founder of the Dementia and Alzheimer’s Well Being Network® is included for family discussion. Parents will want to read the many uplifting suggestions that will help the entire family enhance their time together with a loved one.
Paulette Bochnig Sharkey is the author of dozens of articles and puzzles for children’s magazines. A Doll for Grandma is her debut picture book. Her inspiration for this story came from working as a volunteer pianist with memory-care residents and from caring for family members with dementia. Both brought moments of great joy and fulfillment. She lives in East Lansing, Michigan.
*Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for a review.