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.
I love stories about children and aging grandparents. This book really touches so many themes for children, even preparing them for loss. Such a beautiful book and great resource for parents to use with kids. Have been wanting to read it! Excellent review.
I love intergenerational relationship stories & love the idea of music mediating when a beloved elder experiences dementia. Thanks so much for reviewing this – I can’t wait to read it!
I’ll have to check this out. It sounds like a moving and important story of love and loss. Thank you for sharing!
Having a father who suffered from dementia, I’m interested in reading this book. I’m grateful my dad remembered my daughter and me up to the very end. What a Beautiful Morning sounds like a book I’d love to read.
This is a tough subject and it sounds like this book handles it beautifully. It is on my want to read list!
Wow! This sounds like a must read story. Going to see if they will bring it in down here. With baby boomers coming into the age of retiring, having books available to deal with this subject will be valued immensely everywhere. A beautiful book to help children understand, care and cope with aging adults makes this a very special keepsake.
This sounds lovely!
Joanna…thank you so much…this is a powerful book…and a very much needed one.
This looks like a wonderful story. The cover art is beautiful.
Thank you for your wonderful review of this beautiful and meaningful book. Its exploration of love and loss are deeply touching. The book, and its message, are clearly to be cherished.