Exquisitely, compellingly poignant and haunting, I was so happy that I took this to the hairdresser’s yesterday. It meant I could read it one sitting without feeling guilty about neglected house chores!
I am not who I say I am.
Marla isn’t who she thinks she is.
I am a girl trying to forget.
Marla is a woman trying to remember.
Allison has never known her mother who died within hours of giving birth. She’s been raised by a father with major anger issues and has tiptoed around both his rages and his women all her life. The latest in this parade of women is Kelly-Anne, kind and caring, who took off but did almost beg Allie to go with her.
After years of mental abuse and finally physical battering which culminates in a hot iron smashed across her face, Allie also runs – to find Kelly-Anne but instead runs into problems. She finds herself, taking shelter, in a dingy garden shed but the house to which it belongs is not unoccupied. Marla lives there in a dementia-fog of her own. Marla mistakes Allie for her girlhood friend Toffee and so the two begin a tentative and touching relationship in which both look out for each other, bolster each other and ultimately rescue each other.
That summation does not in any way do justice to the beauty of this verse-novel or its command on the reader.
Allison and Marla become a team. Each in her own way helps the other to overcome their difficulties and insecurities as well as their basic needs for care, companionship and safety.
This is truly a beautiful book which will bring the reader to tears, but also laugh and rage and empathy.
It is more suited to older readers – around 13 years+ – but is so worth promoting to your sensitive and discerning readers. I highly recommend it for students in Lower Secondary and upwards.
Random House Australia
Once upon a time, in the 1960s, there was a young cub reporter who worked for the Bucks Free Press covering such scintillating happenings as village fairs and other local events. Despite the rigours of such journalism, Sir Terry Pratchett began writing short stories for young readers which were also published in the newspaper.
This rather unostentatious beginning was to lead to the magical, fantastical world of Pratchett as we know it.
Sir Terry has trawled back over these stories from his youth and selected some for this volume – mostly exactly as they were written originally, with only a little tweaking here and there.
Of particular interest I think are Tales of the Carpet People and Another Tale of the Carpet People which of course later developed into Terry’s first novel.
Dragons and wizards, a lake monster, an adventurous tortoise called Hercules and pointy hats and magic spells a-plenty come together in a humorous romp through the young Pratchett’s imagination.
Whether you are a diehard fan or more selective of the many offerings penned by this master storyteller or even if – surely not! – you have never read a Terry Pratchett book, this is a terrific anthology which would sit well on shelves from primary to lower secondary or home. [Beautiful hardcover concealed by attractive dustjacket!]
“..that naive young lad on the motorbike and the grown-up me with my black hat and beard are the same person – and all we both ever wanted to do was write for people old enough to understand.
And to imagine…”
Clicking on his image will take you to a 2008 article where Sir Terry discusses his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease.
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.
Check out Kayleen’s website and Victoria’s here.