Saturday 6 June 2015

Do You Remember?

Do You Remember? by Kelly O’Gara and Anna McNeil, illustrated by Kelly O’Gara (Wombat Books)
HB RRP $24.99
ISBN 978-1-92513-924-2

Reviewed by Peta Biggin

Do You Remember? is a beautiful and poignant book that follows a young child as they try to comprehend their beloved grandparent’s decline due to Dementia.  It is a gentle look at a confronting disease that can confuse and distress all members of the family.

The story is told through the memories of the child – from happier, healthier times through to the grandparent’s eventual placement in a home.  As the grandparent worsens and their behaviour becomes more unpredictable, we see the child try different tactics to reach their grandparent and restore the relationship.  As it becomes evident that a nursing home is the only option, we see the child gradually accept that things will never be the same but they continue to act with love; visiting often and cherishing the good memories.  The last pages of the book are devoted to providing facts and information about Dementia, what it means for everyone effected and how to behave around those who suffer from it.

The full-page illustrations by Kelly O’Gara are colourful and delicate, the characters being depicted as field mice.  There is an emotive quality with each picture that serves to intensify what is already a very touching story.

This is a lovely book that deals particularly well with a challenging subject.  It not only provides clarity for young people who would struggle to understand what their loved ones are experiencing but also gives suggestions for activities to help everyone cope with the situation. 

Kelly O’Gara is a Sydney-based illustrator and Visual Arts teacher who loves experimenting with both traditional and contemporary drawing methods.  She enjoys the unusual and interesting and is particularly inspired by the natural world.  Do You Remember? is her first children’s book.

Anna McNeil was born in Boston, USA and currently lives and works in Sydney as a registered nurse.  From an early age she was always interested in creative writing and excelled at English at school.  She enjoys travelling and plans to spend a year in Europe and the USA.  Do You Remember? is her first children’s book.

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