There are so many good books being released this month, that I’m meeting myself coming backwards trying to keep up! I wanted to quickly write a piece on this picture book, though, as I think it’s rather special…
We are big fans of Clare Helen Welsh in the Merry Bookworm household, The Underwear Wolf being one of my son’s favourite books of all time (his quote, not mine!). I think the main reason for this is because she writes with such empathy, which she weaves into her stories in a way that truly resonates with young children – no mean feat in picture books and early readers, when constrained by restricted word counts and the need to use accessible language.
Because Grandad doesn’t remember things like he used to. But I love him as much as I always have. And I know that he loves me.
This latest book, The Tide, is destined to have a huge impact on young children as it addresses the issue of dementia, a subject which is so difficult to try and explain to little ones. It’s both beautifully and cleverly written, with Clare using a day at the beach as the backdrop to the story and the analogy of the tide to explain memories fading in and out of a person’s mind. The story is told through the eyes of a young girl, and Clare uses that to great effect, linking Grandad’s inability to remember to that of the little girl’s, when she lost a toy that Mummy had to help her find, or when she forgot how to put her shoes on, and her teacher had to help her. The threads that tie the book together are ones of love and understanding: that while the person living with dementia may struggle with their memory and find life frightening and/or confusing at times, they can still enjoy everyday pleasures like a day out at the beach, an ice-cream and most importantly, the company of people who love them.
Before I wrap this up, I must make mention of Ashling Lindsay’s expressive illustrations, which capture the mood of the book perfectly. They are truly absorbing, and each time I look at them, I spot something new. I particularly like the matching bunny slippers that Grandad and his Grandaughter wear on the final page.
In sum, this is a beautiful book, both inside and out. I have no doubt that it will make a real difference to young children, helping them make sense of the confusing and bewildering changes they have seen in any loved ones who are living with dementia.
Author: Clare Helen Welsh
Illustrator: Ashling Lindsay
Publisher: Little Tiger Press
Hardback: 32 pages