What’s Happening to Grandpa?
By Maria Shriver
Little, Brown, Warner Books, 1271 Avenue of Americas, New York, NY 10020, 0316001015, $ 15.95, 2004,
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake
Deeply Moved – Valuable Insight into the Dread Disease Dementia and Alzheimer’s
I am a grandfather. My wife has Alzheimer’s disease. I can only wish I had read Maia Shriver’s book “What’s Happening to Grandpa?” when it was first published in 2004. I watched as our children and grandchildren struggled through questions I hadn’t resolved myself.
Shriver’s insights into the mind of a child and understanding of the process of aging, dementia, and Alzheimer’s capture the emotions of the victim of Alzheimer’s, their primary caregiver, and the entire family impacted by the disease.
I was deeply moved by Shriver’s warmth and sensitivity. The unique use of the voice and viewpoint of Kate, a child, make this a valuable educational resource for children, K – 5th grade. The book can also serve to open conversations with older children.
The obvious love and patience Kate develops with her grandfather as she works through her feelings of hurt, sadness, and loss bear evidence of understanding as she takes on the project of savoring and saving Grandpa’s stories by making a photo album to insure that these stories live on as Grandpa’s memory continues to decline.
Sandra Speidel’s soft colored illustrations add a rich sense that creates the same warm feelings through Shriver’s word pictures and give an extra dimension of reality to the story.
“What’s Happening to Grandpa?” is a wonderful tool for Alzheimer’s awareness, family comfort, and childhood education. Highly recommended.