Monday 28 July 2014

When I See Grandma

When I See Grandma by Debra Tidball, illustrated by Leigh Hedstrom (Wombat Books)
HB RRP $19.95
ISBN 978-1-921632-59-4
Reviewed by Peta Biggin

Visiting Grandma can sometimes be sad but with a little imagination and thought, a little girl and her brother brighten Grandma’s dreams. 

When I See Grandma is a beautiful book.  The story follows a young girl as she visits her grandma, who is unresponsive in a nursing home.  By bringing in the special parts of her own life, the young girl tries to bring some happiness to Grandma’s dreams.

                  I love singing in the school choir.
                  The songs are happy and bright.
                  Grandma loves singing too…
                  When I see Grandma I sing her a song,
                  For her dreams to dance on.

Apart from the beautiful relationship depicted between the girl and her grandmother, what I especially loved about the book is that there is no shying away from reality.  At no point does the grandmother magically awaken; in fact the story ends, rather sadly, with her death.

                  I don’t like it when Daddy goes away for work.
                  I miss him a lot, but I think about how much he loves
                  me until I see him again.
                  I give him a big kiss before he leaves.
                  Grandma loves kisses too…
                  When I see Grandma again, I kiss her goodbye.

Although poignant, it is also a celebration of memories, family relationships and the simple things in life – music, laughter, having your hair brushed.

Leigh Hedstrom’s illustrations are the perfect accompaniment - fun with lovely little details and warm colours. They are also a little understated which suits the gentleness of the story. 

When I See Grandma is a heart-warming, touching and sentimental book.  Overall, I loved it and would recommend it as a must have for any child’s book collection. 

Debra Tidball is a social worker, parent and author.  When I See Grandma is her first book and was drawn from her own experience of having a parent with dementia.  She lives in suburban Sydney with her husband, sons and furkids.  She can be found online at:

Leigh Hedstrom is a freelance illustrator with over 10 years’ experience illustrating for educational and children’s media.  She has illustrated for school readers and children’s magazines.  When I See Grandma is her first picture book.  She can be found online at:

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