by Emilie Rivard, Anne-Claire Delisle (Illustrator)
With tenderness, sensitivity, and humor, Really and Truly explores the effect that dementia has on a young boy named Charlie and his family.
Charlie is very close to his grandfather, who loves to tell fanciful stories about pirates, witches, and gnomes that amuse Charlie to no end. But lately, Charlie's grandpa doesn't have any new stories to tell — in fact, some days grandpa doesn't even recognize Charlie. A disease has stolen grandpa's memories, his appetite, and even his smile.
Charlie wants so much to make his grandpa smile again that he comes up with a plan to tell him stories — the same ones that grandpa used to tell Charlie to make him laugh! Without shying away from the inevitable heartache that comes from watching loved ones suffer, Really and Truly is a spirited book for young readers struggling to remain optimistic during troubling times.
Catholic Education Week 2019 recommended reading.
Publisher: Owlkids Books
Publication date: 8/14/2012
Sales rank: 687,092
Age range: 4 years
Product dimensions: 8.81 (w) x 8.24 (h) x 0.38 (d)
From the Publisher
"Right away Grandpa turns and looks at us. I think he almost believes me! Thanks to my story, he isn’t looking at the cars outside anymore." — from the book
Children's Literature - Miranda McClain
Watching a loved one fall victim to the disease of Alzheimer's is devastatingly painful to a grownup but to a child it can also be scary and confusing, especially when they had a special relationship. The child doesn't understand why their beloved grandparent or family member doesn't remember certain things that they shared or even know who they are. Helping a child to understand and deal with this difficult situation can be a challenge but thanks to this book it is now a little easier. Charlie and his Grandpa have always had a close bond, sharing stories, but as Charlie grows older Grandpa starts to lose his memory and even his smile. Charlie visits his Grandpa every week with his parents and one day Charlie becomes the storyteller to Grandpa instead of the other way around and he makes a connection. The next week he tells another story and gets Grandpa to eat his dinner. The following week Charlie performs a truly magical act and manages to make Grandpa's smile reappear. When Charlie returns and Grandpa doesn't recognize him Charlie is crushed but still manages to make Grandpa smile. The story ends realistically but with an air of hope and the thought that Charlie will be able to keep making Grandpa smile. This story will touch the heart of anyone who has known someone with Alzheimer's disease as well as anyone with a heart at all. It is tender and moving without being sappy or saccharin. The whimsical illustrations are delightful and add a touch of fantasy that will capture the imagination of a young audience. It is a lovely story that can be enjoyed by anyone, even those not touched by this painful illness. Reviewer: Miranda McClain
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4—Charlie reminisces about the stories and tricks Grandpa shared with him. Now, "an awful disease has eaten up his memory and his words. It has even swallowed up his smile." The youngster uses the stories and tricks he learned from his grandfather to entice him to respond with a look, a swallow of food, or a hug. When a trick yields a smile, Charlie says, "His awful disease didn't eat up his smile. It was just hidden away, deep down in the bottom of his heart." The amusing, heartfelt narrative reassures readers that people with dementia can have a range of responses during visits. Beautiful, expressive cartoonish illustrations extend the text and capture the past, the present, and the imagination with warmth and humor. A valuable addition to library collections, hospitals, and assisted-living facilities.—Laura Scott, Farmington Community Library, MI
Charlie's close relationship with his grandfather is changed because of dementia. Charlie's grandfather told amazing stories when Charlie was a little boy. Whether it was a tale of pirates in the attic or a backyard witch or the gnome who lived in the basement, Grandpa had a fantastic explanation for everything. But now that Charlie is older and Grandpa has a disease that has "eaten up his memory and his words," Charlie and his parents are heartbroken. Charlie's grandfather prefers watching cars to conversing with the family, but Charlie pulls out one of his grandfather's old stories, which causes Grandpa to turn toward the family. He uses the same tactic, with success, when Grandpa refuses to eat or to smile. He even has a trick when Grandpa no longer recognizes his family. Rich colors and humorous details elevate the illustrations in this well-meaning, but overly optimistic volume for the youngest reader. The fantastic is shown in black ink, with the witch, gnome and pirate mischievously cavorting, while Charlie and his grandfather's moods are reflected in the background colors. While this might be comforting to children whose older relatives are in the early stages of dementia, it's hard to see how any of Charlie's strategies would work when the disease progresses. Valuable enough, but limited. (Picture book. 4-8)