Do you Remember? by Kelly O’Gara and Anna McNeil
Published by Wombat Books
Do you Remember? would have to be one of the most touching children’s books I have read addressing the subject of Dementia. Kelly O’Gara’s gentle telling of two mice, a grandmother and her grandchild covers a subject close to my heart, an all too familiar disease affecting many of today’s aging population, Dementia.
Each page begins with ‘Do you remember’ and follows the progression of the disease. It treads gently but provides realism for those who are faced with this unwelcome evil.
No-one is prepared for what this disease is capable of until they are forced to live through it. For children, the experience is especially daunting. Dementia is frightening and unrelenting. This beautiful telling will help prepare young ones for what is to come. From the anger and confusion, their loved one will endure, moving into care and to when finally they succumb to the disease.
The young mouse helps his grandmother to remember happier times by painting pictures of the stories she had shared and covering the hilltops with them in an attempt to ease her suffering. All too soon the young mouse takes on the role of the adult by reading to his grandmother who no longer can.
The heartbreaking line: ‘Do you remember the day you forgot me? I do.’ will touch your soul. Have the tissues handy and I would recommend not reading it on the train if it is a subject close to you.
The story begins with a grandchild and grandmother playing in a field of dandelions and finishes with a lone dandelion’s downy tuffs floating skyward as the grandchild is comforted by the memory of his grandmother’s laugh and warm hugs.
At the end of the book, there are facts and interaction tools, again written for children to understand such as ‘What is Dementia?’ and things you can do to help your loved ones.
Kelly & Anna’s use of mice as the characters for this story is to be congratulated. This form of storytelling is less confronting and more comforting showing the changing relationship between child and grandparent and no matter what love is always there even though no longer on the surface.
Kelly’s use of light and dark illustrations to help portray the progression of the disease coupled with the gentle earthy tones supports the delicate yet confronting storyline.
This book is a first for both Kelly, and Anna, which I am sure will receive countless awards and accolades.
In a perfect world there would be no need for this type of book but Dementia is now a harsh reality that will undoubtedly touch us all before it is finished. Do you Remember? offers that warm blanket of reassurance for a challenging subject.
CKT Book Reviewer
Author: Kelly O’Gara & Anna McNeil
Illustrator: Kelly O’Gara
Title: Do you Remember?
Publisher: Wombat Books
Published: April 2015