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My Book about Brains, Change and Dementia ISBN: 9781785925115
Haddon, George and Moore, Lynda
Published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2018
It's unusual to think of a book about dementia as being charming, but this one certainly is, partly down to the warm, witty and often humorous illustrations and also to the sensitive text. Children in a family with someone suffering from any of the several types of dementia will find information here that is aimed at a younger level and will provide that information in simple but easily understood terms in large-ish print. It begins by explaining that the brain 'drives our body a bit like a person drives a car'. And that 'we need our brain to do every single thing'. If it gets sick, then this is what dementia is all about. We are given a list of the various kinds (along with a pronunciation guide of each) and then an explanation of some of the things that dementia might cause a person to need help with and the personality changes it might bring about. This is no one's fault, and there is nothing that can make the person better. Furthermore, the person will have more needs as time goes on; this means the people looking after that person will be very busy. There follow two pages that explain that the person will ultimately die, and we are encouraged to ask ourselves if we are ready to hear about this information. If not, then one skips on to read about the feelings one might have about the problem in the family - anger or sadness, or being frightened, or even being happy - and these feelings are fine: 'All feelings are okay!' Talking about things one is worried about is good, and there are other things that can make you feel better too - one of which is your puppy licking your face! While the information is direct and tells it 'as it is', it is so gently put that it won't be frightening. My only slight caveat is the two pages about death. While the subject certainly needs to be broached in some way, I can't imagine a young child not wanting to read the two pages concerned. A child who is read to often, knows that the pages in a book go from a to b and will find it strange to be asked if he or she wants to skip. It puts the onus on the child. I think that the answer might be to let the child ask what happens to the dementia sufferer at the end of the story. Sooner or later this question is almost inevitably asked, and that might be the time to answer it in the terms the book uses. However, in spite of this, the book is a wonderful introduction to dementia and will prove a great addition to the sparse literature on the subject aimed at children. Available from Amazon, from book shops, and from the publisher: www.jkp.com.
Age: 4+