Squee, Perfect Picture Book Friday is back from its summer hiatus and I have a humdinger for you!
Title: What a Beautiful Morning
Author: Arthur A. Levine
Illustrator: Katie Kath
Publisher: Running Press Kids, 2016
Themes: grandparents, love, loss, dementia
Summer days at grandpa’s house began with a booming song…
This is a story of a young boy’s relationship with his grandparents. Noah and his grandpa have a close bond. They’re both morning people and from dawn enjoy to sing and have fun together. But Grandpa starts forgetting things and one day forgets who Noah is. Noah struggles to deal with this loss, as do both Grandma and Grandpa himself. Grandma explains to Noah what is happening to his grandpa and encourages Noah to make the most of the precious times they have. Noah manages to still bring a song and a smile to Grandpa.
Why I like this book:
The story explores the universal themes of love and loss through the intimate moments of a grandson coming to terms with his granddad’s dementia. All three characters are beautifully and charmingly developed through the text and illustrations. The “boys'” boisterous summer routine reflects the intimacy of grandchild and grandparent. The young boy’s confusion at perturbation at the changes in routine and character are authentic and intimate. The use of music as a memory and personal connector mirrors the experience of many adults and children as they deal with a loved one onset of Alzheimer’s or dementia.
The use of background shading in the illustrations reflects the gradual and distressing “fading away” of Grandpa without needing to label an illness. One of the strengths of this touching story is the subtlety with which the loss and change is treated giving weight and yet tenderness to the changes many young children will experience as older acquaintances and relatives deal with ill health and decline. The music motif is a great choice to mediate these emotions.
I especially love the use of “docket of ideas” for the plans Grandpa and Noah create, and think kids will love learning and using this expression.
Have kids create a “Docket of Ideas” list to do with a grandparent or older friend!
Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.