January is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Alzheimer’s disease is a fatal, progressive and degenerative disease that destroys brain cells. According to the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada, it is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 64 per cent of all dementias in Canada (www.alzheimers.ca). Commemorate Alzheimer’s Awareness Month with these Canadian children’s books.
IL = Interest Level; RL = Reading Level
The Little Word Catcher
Written by Danielle Simard
Illustrated by Geneviève Côté
Translated by Jill Corner
Second Story Press, 2008
IL: Ages 5-8 RL: Grade 2
Elsie’s grandmother used to know many marvellous words, but now she seems to be losing them all the time. This story offers a gentle explanation of the effects of Alzheimer’s on relationships in a family. It was first published in French as the award-winning La petite rapporteuse de mots.
Thematic Links: Alzheimer’s Disease | Grandmothers | Families
Mile-High Apple Pie
Written by Laura Langston
Illustrated by Lindsey Gardiner
The Bodley Head, 2004
IL: Ages 5-8 RL: Grades 2-3
In this heartwarming family story, Grandma remembers lots of things – like how to make apple pie. But some days, she can’t recall her granddaughter’s name. Book includes a recipe for apple pie.
Thematic Links: Alzheimer’s Disease | Grandmothers
Really and Truly
Written by Émilie Rivard
Illustrated by Anne-Claire Delisle
Translated by Sarah Quinn
Owlkids Books Inc., 2012
IL: Ages 4-8 RL: Grades 2-3
With tenderness, sensitivity and humour, Really and Truly explores the effect that dementia has on a young boy named Charlie and his family. This title is also available in French as Vrai de vrai, papi?
Thematic Links: Dementia | Grandfathers | Families
The Invisible Rules of the Zoë Lama
Written by Tish Cohen
HarperCollins Canada, 2007
IL: Ages 10-12 RL: Grade 5
Zoë has rules to live by and she’s determined to use them to guide her fellow seventh-graders. School, relationships and family problems (her father recently passed away and her grandmother is suffering from Alzheimer’s) are no match for Zoë’s rules — until she goes too far.
Thematic Links: Rules | School | Relationships | Family | Alzheimer’s Disease
Jess and the Runaway Grandpa
Written by Mary Woodbury
Coteau Books, 1997
IL: Ages 8-13 RL: Grade 5
A rugged setting, believable action and realistic characters are vividly portrayed in this adventure novel for middle readers. Set against the realities of Alzheimer’s disease, this is a compelling story about loyalty, patience and compassion.
Thematic Links: Alzheimer’s Disease | Adventure | Grandfathers
Written by Sonia Craddock
IL: Ages 8-11 RL: Grade 5
Rosy’s grandmother keeps vanishing. Where does she go when she disappears? And does Gran really know, as she claims, where a secret treasure can be found? Rosy unravels these persistent puzzles in this touching, offbeat mystery about the joys and sorrows of family life. Originally published in 1996 as Rosemary for Remembrance.
Thematic Links: Dementia | Families | Grandmothers
Young Adult Fiction
Crush. Candy. Corpse
Written by Sylvia McNicoll
IL: Ages 13 and up RL: Grades 7-8
Last year Sunny was forced to serve 40 hours as a volunteer on an Alzheimer’s ward. This year she’s on trial for the manslaughter of a 75-year-old Alzheimer’s patient. We learn what really happened in the forty-first hour through Sunny’s volunteer journal, the trial and her personal narration.
Thematic Links: Alzheimer’s Disease | Euthanasia | Justice System | Consequences
Gravity Brings Me Down
Written by Natale Ghent
Doubleday Canada, 2009
IL: Ages 12 and up RL: Grade 7
Sioux is a quick, wry and comical girl. Her belief that she views high school differently from other kids is confirmed when she makes an uncomfortable discovery about a popular teacher. While she feels alone at school and in her particular view on small-town life, she finds a kindred spirit in the most unlikely person: an elderly woman.
Thematic Links: Dementia | Friendship | Belonging | School
Written by Gordon Korman
Scholastic Canada, 2009
IL: Ages 12 and up RL: Grades 6-7
When Marcus plans to play high school football in his new town, he meets with resistance from star player Troy Popovich. While practising in the park, Marcus meets ex-NFLer, Charlie Popovich. As their friendship blossoms, Marcus realizes that the violent tackles Charlie suffered during his glory days may have taken their toll.
Thematic Links: Alzheimer’s Disease | Football | Intergenerational Friendship