Gerdner, Linda, Sarah Langford, and Stuart Loughridge. Grandfather’s story cloth = Yawg daim paj ntaub dab neeg. Walnut Creek, Calif: Shen’s Books, 2008.
Sometimes we often forget that Alzheimer’s can and does visit without respect to culture. Sometimes, the stories are our own, but told in a different setting. Power exudes from the story cloth and from the memories of those changed by the disease. It is a disease that is misunderstood by kids and grownups alike. The creative team tackles these problems and communicates how one family dealt with these growing problems.
The book offers some great cultural insights and should be valuable to any diversity program. However, the book became much more personal because we had my father and three-year old grandson both with us for a week this summer. We shared the story and our own version of the story cloth. However awkward, painful, or different, we must take the time to engage one another and relate the present to the past.
The book accomplishes much, but it might have taken the dialogue between Tou and Chersheng to a level beyond the capacity of the three-year-old Tou. Tou’s evaluative comments about Grandfather on page 18 are not believable. One can accept a three-year-old saying someone is stupid, but it is hard to believe that he would declare, “He’s always forgetting. He’s useless.” The comments are more universally acceptable from an older child, but the dialogue between brothers is still appropriate and necessary.
Books that tackle tough problems across cultures are valuable. Books that can do it across generations are even more valuable and this one delivers despite the shortcoming. Add it to collections in the library or classroom and do not hesitate to give it to a family to read together who is dealing with the uncomfortable feelings brought on by the aging process or dementia.
4 out of 5
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