Some of our fondest memories revolve around our grandparents, including the many ways they indulge us and the funny stories they tell. And some of our saddest memories include the moment we suddenly realize that our grandparents are getting older and losing their memories in the process.
That’s what happens to Charlie and his grandpa in the touchingly realistic picture book, Really and Truly, by Emilie Rivard. In the book, Charlie’s hilarious grandpa spends quality time telling little Charlie all sorts of imaginative stories about pirates in the attic, witches in the shed and gnomes in the basement. But eventually Charlie grows up, and when he visits his grandpa, something mysterious happens. Grandpa doesn’t talk to him, and acts as if he doesn’t even know him. He has some sort of disease that seems to have “swallowed up” everything about grandpa, even his smile.
Nothing sparks any recognition until Charlie decides to re-tell one of the stories grandpa once told him. For a brief second, grandpa’s eyes light up, and Charlie just may have found a way to get his grandpa back.
Really and Truly is a timely, touching and oh-so-necessary book about the signs, symptoms and emotional effects of Alzheimer’s disease. The text is realistic, the deep bond between Charlie and his grandpa is heart-felt, and grandpa’s unexpected descent into Alzheimer’s disease mimicks the bitter-sweetness of real-life, change and the aging process. Artist Anne-Claire Delisle’s illustrations capture a range of emotions, from the dreamy days when Charlie lays on a blanket with grandpa under the open sky, to the stark evenings in grandpa’s nursing home as he stares blankly out of a window. Delisle’s talent and technique definitely do not go unnoticed. I love the way she sketches spidery scribbles of grandpa’s make-believe characters scampering across the early pages of the book, then allows them to fade slowly, like grandpa’s memory, toward the end.
As you can see, this book really makes an impact!
Really and Truly is a good fit for multiple scenarios. Aging grandparents may want to purchase it for their grandchildren, parents may want to add it to their child’s personal library, and schools, churches and even doctor’s offices may find it to be the perfect complement for books on aging, loss and grieving.
For a timely story about the unbreakable bonds of love, be sure to pick up a copy.
Best wishes…really and truly,