Celia and Nonna – Victoria Lane/Kayleen West
ISBN 978925000603 (hardback) 978192000601 (paperback)
Ford St Publishing
Some very apt books have come my way in the last week or so and this is one of them. This gentle and loving story of a little girl and her much-loved Nonna, and the changes that occur when Nonna’s memory starts to fail is so very pertinent to our family at the present time.
It is difficult for little ones to understand that aging family members cannot always remember things, or indeed that they may change where they live. On Friday we celebrated my mother’s 88th birthday and at times it is tricky for the two youngest great-grandchildren to understand why Nanny now lives in the place she does, or why she doesn’t remember everything.
Celia loves sleeping over at her Nonna’s place. She always has a fuss made of her and she and Nonna cook together and play special games, but when Nonna starts to forget things, locks herself out of the house and so on, Nonna moves to a special place where people can help to keep her safe. There is no room for Celia to sleep over any more and nowhere to cook – but there is room to put lots of drawings up on walls of the fun things that are special memories. In just the same way, Miss Just-Turned-Five spends much time creating beautiful artwork for her great-grandmother, just to make sure Nanny knows how much she is loved.
It was difficult for me to read this without emotion because of the intensely personal circumstances but this is a superb book to share with little people who are facing changes in their family due to aging, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
The text and illustrations are simple, gentle and suitably engaging for a young audience – the endpapers are truly gorgeous (many of my friends and students know about my rapture over endpapers!).
Highly recommended for home and library shelves for sharing with small people from around 4 and up.