Friday, 31 July 2015

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 31st July 2015 - "Lovely Old Lion" by Julia Jarman and Susan Varley (Andersen Children's Books)

A touching tale about growing old, and being young, about memories and friendships. Our stunning Book of the Week this week is Lovely Old Lion...

Sometimes we see children's picture books that take on the hugely brave task of describing (and also helping children come to terms with) very tricky and 'grown up' subjects. In the last two years, Charlotte has lost two Great Grandmas who both suffered from Alzheimer's Disease and for us it was often really hard to describe to her why Great Nanny and Great Grandma would forget her name, behave irrationally around her and sometimes be quite angry and frustrated.

We have seen a lot of books dealing with this very difficult subject and in "Lovely Old Lion", Julia Jarman and Susan Varley have adopted an extremely delicate and gentle approach to show what happens when someone gets older and isn't quite the person (or in this case, Lion) they once were.

Lenny the Lion loves his Grandpa - once the great king of the jungle but now a bit old and a bit forgetful. Though Grandad Lion is old, he still has a sparkle in his eyes and can tell tales of great adventures he had as a younger lion. 'King Lion' does forget things, and sometimes it seems that all he wants to do is sit in his comfy chair, not eating, not playing and not talking.

Lenny doesn't quite know what to do when Grandpa becomes more frail and elderly, and his dementia becomes worse. Calling on some of King Lion's old friends for help, Lenny discovers that sometimes even though his grandpa's short term memory isn't brilliant, his long term memory is as sharp as ever and his old friends exchange stories with 'lovely old lion' once again.

The story ends on a beautiful note of hope, and as King Lion's friends rally round and reminisce with him, you can't help but want to cheer and cuddle this book closely.

Dementia does touch most families' lives at one point or another, and for the youngest who are used to their grandparents being around, it's sometimes super-tough to help them understand what changes as their beloved grandparents or great-grandparents get older. This book really is a boon, and the gentle approach of using animal characters to draw children in to its very 'human' story is a really great idea.

Find out more about Alzheimer's on the UK Alzheimer's Research Website

Charlotte's best bit: King Lion remembering the trick he and his friends played on Crocodile!

Daddy's Favourite bit: A touching and sensitive approach to discussing and opening up situations that may be all too familiar to more and more children as grandparents and great-grandparents live longer. Very delicately written and wonderfully illustrated, a really fantastic book to help children come to terms with this dreadful illness

(Kindly sent to us for review by Andersen Children's Books)

Lovely Old Lion

Written by Julia Jarman

Illustrated by Susan Varley

Published by Andersen Children's Books

Release Date: 6th August 2015