Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar

hour-of-the-bees-41ovl5tbiol__sx344_bo1204203200_Hour of the Bees

Lindsay Eagar, Author

Candlewick Press, Fiction, Mar. 8, 2016

Pages: 360

Suitable for Ages: 8-12

Themes: Family relationships, Heritage, Magic, Grandfather, Dementia, Forgiveness, Understanding, Loss

Book Jacket Synopsis: While her friends are spending their summers having pool parties and sleepovers, twelve-year-old Carolina –Carol — is spending hers in the middle of the New Mexico desert, helping her parents move the grandfather she’s never met off his dying sheep ranch and into a home for people with dementia.

At first Carol keeps her distance from prickly Grandpa Serge, whose eyes are impossibly old and who chastises “Caro-leeen-a” for spitting on her roots. But as the summer drags on and the heat bears down, she finds herself drawn to Serge, enchanted by his stories about an oasis in the desert with a green-glass lake and a tree that gave the villagers the gift of immortality — and the bees that kept the tree alive.

When Serge weaves details of his own life into his stories and tells her to keep an eye out for the bees he is certain will return to the ranch and end the century-long drought, she chalks it up to dementia. But as the thin line between magic and reality starts to blur, Carol must decide for herself what is possible — and what it means to be true to her roots.

Why I like this book:

Lindsay Eagar’s heartfelt and sensitive intergenerational story is about finding and honoring your roots.  The language is strong and lyrical and captures the growing bond between Carolina (Carol) and Grandfather Serge. And there is an intermingling of Spanish and English that adds authenticity to the setting.

It also is a coming of age story for a 12-year-old Carol, who is the only family member interested in really getting to know her grandfather and is spellbound with his storytelling about a special tree that keeps the Spanish community safe, a girl who dares to leave and explore the world, and living forever.

The characters are realistic and believable. Carol is a curious, sweet, patient and reliable tween who is the only family member who respects and even admires her grandfather. She attempts to connect with him, even when he lapses into the past and mistakes Carol for her Grandmother Rosa. Grandfather Serge is a crusty old man who is battling dementia and won’t leave his run-down sheep ranch. He can spin a great story and Carol wants to hear them all.

The plot is original with moments of action and tension in the ravaged desert environment that will keep readers engaged. There are personality struggles that teens will relate to with Carol and her sister, Alta, and Carol’s father and Grandfather Serge. This magical story inside the story is beautifully written and one you won’t forget.  I LOVED The Hour of the Bees.  The ending is very satisfying and will capture  readers’ imaginations.

This is a helpful story for teens who have grandparents suffering with dementia. It gives them insight into ways of communicating and connecting with loved ones. It is also an interesting story to read, discuss and write about because of the many  layered themes.

Check other Middle Grade review links on author Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.

Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord

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Cynthia Lord, Author

Scholastic Press, Fiction, Feb. 25, 2014

Suitable for Ages: 8-12

Themes: Moving, Photography, Friendship, Dementia

Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Lucy Emery’s family has moved to an old cottage on a New Hampshire lake. Her father is a famous photographer and takes off on another travel shoot before the family settles. Lucy misses her father and is tired of starting over again.  When she discovers that her father is judging a photography contest for youth, she is eager to enter to see if she has talent.  She enters anonymously. She studies the photo scavenger hunt list and begins to take photos of her new lake surroundings. Lucy meets her neighbor Nate and his family, who visit their  Grandmother Lilah at her cottage every summer. Nate likes Lucy’s photographs and wants to help her with the contest. Lucy enjoys being with Nate’s family and learns that his grandmother is a naturalist. Since Grandmother Lilah is in poor health, Nate invites Lucy to help with the family “Loon Patrol.” Their goal is to help keep the endangered loons safe, carefully document their activity in a journal and report their findings. Lucy photographs the loons and  the birth of their chicks. Through her photos of the loons, the mountains, the lake and the community, Lucy also captures pictures of Grandmother’ Lilah’s memory loss, something that Nate’s not ready to see.

Why I like this book: This is a heartwarming coming of age story by Cynthia Lord, author of the 2007 Newbery Honor book Rules. It is a lazy summer read that is so captivating that you feel like you’re there with Lucy, Nate and the lake. Half a Chance is packed with adventure, wonder, friendship, artistic endeavors, and nature. Lord’s characters are realistic and engaging. The story is narrated by Lucy who gives readers a good feel for life on the lake. She struggles with ambivalence towards her father and a need for him to notice her photographic work. She encounters rivalry and the complexities of new friendships. Nate deals with Grandmother Lilah’s dementia. The plot is well-paced and readers won’t want the story to end. It is a fresh concept for a story with a satisfying ending. I highly recommend this book for tweens. Click here to visit Cynthia Lord’s website.

The Little Word Catcher

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By Danielle Simard, Author

Genevieve Cote, Illustrator

Second Story Press, Fiction, 2008

Suitable for Ages: 5-8

Themes: Grandparents, Memory Loss, Family Relationships

Opening: “Did you know that words could get lost? My Grandmother misplaces her words all the time. She loses them even more often than her keys. Do they fly off just to play tricks on her? I wonder where they go.”

Synopsis: Elise watches her grandmother begin to lose her words. Sometimes her grandmother is sad. annoyed, and frustrated when she can’t remember her words.  Elise is puzzled because her grandmother knew millions of words. Are her words hiding? Can she catch every single lost word in a net and bring them back to her grandmother before it’s too late?  A special bond develops between grandmother and granddaughter.  And Elise decides that her grandmother’s words are wearing out like an old dress. And maybe her grandmother is giving the words they shared to her as a gift.

What I like about this book:  Danielle Simard has written a moving and sensitive story about a girl trying to make sense of her grandmother’s memory loss.  I especially like how Simard allows the girl to come up with her own heartwarming thoughts about memory loss and how she chooses to deal with her grandma. Such beautiful and inspiring text with a loving and satisfying ending.  This is one of the most unusual stories I’ve read about grandparents with memory loss or dementia. I highly recommend The Little Word Catcher if you have aging loved ones with memory issues. Genevieve Cote’s award-winning watercolors are whimsical and emotive. They add some lightness to a serious topic.

Resources: The book alone is a great resource to use to start a discussion with your children when you have aging parents with memory loss. Parents may want to check out the Kids and Teen page of the Alzheimer’s Association and a post from the Carolina Parent blog about Talking to Kids About Aging Grandparents.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

 

 

My New Granny

My New Granny184520174My New Granny

Elisabeth Steinkellner, Author

Michael Roher, Illustrator

Connie Straddling Morby, Translation

Sky Pony Press, Fiction, September 2012

Suitable for:  Ages 4-8

Themes:  Grandmother, Aging, Dementia, Family, Love, Acceptance

Opening/SynopsisMy old Granny used to make a fuss about my hairdo.  “Fini, what have you done to your beautiful hair again?”  she sighed and shook her head, not understanding.”  Fini’s Granny used to comment on her strange hair styles, help her feed the ducks in the park and cooked exotic meals from the strange places she visited.  Fini’s Granny has changed.  She likes her unusual hairdo, eats the bread crumbs instead of feeding them to the ducks and moves into Fini’s house.  Fini is puzzled by Granny’s strange behavior and isn’t sure how she feels about the changes.  Granny used to take care of her, now she and her family have to help Granny.

Why I like this book:  Elisabeth Steinkellner has written a touching and empathetic story about an aging grandparent who is suffering from dementia.  She realistically captures Fini’s confusion about the changes that occur when her Granny is diagnosed with dementia.  But Fini learns to love and accept the changes of her new Granny.   With the growing number of older adults affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia, this is a helpful resource for children.  The author is from Austria and the book has been translated into English by Connie Straddling Morby.

Michael Roher’s illustrations have  an Austrian flavor.  His technique is unusual and he offered to share his process.  “I used colored ink (fine-pen and marker) as well as red and brown pencils and pastels,” says Roher.  “For some surfaces I used a monoprint-technique to create interesting structures.  I used a roll to apply the color (water-soluble color for linoleum-prints) on the paper, cut out the pieces I needed and glued them onto my pictures.”  His illustrations are unique, warm and show compassion among the characters.

Resources:  Parents may want to check out the Kids and Teen page of the Alzheimer’s Association and a post from the Carolina Parent blog about  Talking to Kids About Aging Grandparents.

This book has been provided to me free of charge by the publisher in exchange for an honest review of the work. 

 

Grandpa Green – Perfect Picture Book

Lane Smith, Author and Illustrator

Roaring Brook Press, May 2011, Fiction

Suitable for:  Ages 5 ad Up

Themes: Aging Grandparent, Memory, Family History, Art

Opening:  “He was born a really long time ago, before computers or cell phones or television.  He grew up on a farm with pigs and corn and carrots…and eggs.  In fourth grade he got chicken pox.  He had to stay home from school  So he read stories about secret gardens and wizards and a  little engine that could.”   A boy takes a walk through a beautiful green topiary garden his great-grandfather  has pruned and shaped into wonderful artistic memories of his life.  Grandpa Green is aging and his memory fading.  But not when he enters his garden; it remembers for him.

Why I like this book:  Wow!  Purchasing this book is like owning a wonderful treasure.  It will certainly become a classic.  The book explores aging, memory, the bonds of family history, and love.  It is a powerful book that parents will want to share with their children, especially if there are aging grandparents.  There is so much detail in Smith’s enchanting artwork.   Activities:  Use this book to talk with your children about aging and family history.  Encourage your children to interview their grandparents  and journal family stories.  Introduce your children to horticulture.  Visit a greenhouse, a botanical garden, an arboretum or topiary      garden in your community.  For more books with resources please visit Perfect Picture Books.

The following Grandpa Green book trailer is designed by David Taylor Design.

Grandpa Green