4 out of 4 stars
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Growing old is rough. Even at the "young" age of 37, there are things I can't do as well as I could when I was younger. I used to love the cold, my knee didn't ache every time I stood up, and I swear I didn't always want to sleep 9-12 hours a day! But these changes are nothing compared to what Gigi faces with Alzheimer's.
Gigi, Are You In There?: Mia Learns About Alzheimer's by Pam Reese is a children's picture book about Alzheimer's from the point of view of a little girl. Gigi (the little girl's grandmother) has trouble remembering things and she says "silly things." Gigi asks her granddaughter to bring her umbrella to her, for example, but Gigi is already holding it in her hand! Mommy explains that these are effects of Alzheimer's.
In less than 25 pages, Pam shows children many of the things someone who has Alzheimer's might do, say, and feel. For example, Gigi sometimes acts mad, but Mommy explains that it's not the little girl's fault, Gigi just feels upset that she has trouble remembering things. She also presents many ways to help out, such as labeling things and leaving notes all around. As for the little girl, Mommy tells her that the best way she can help is to just keep loving Gigi. She also suggests that she hug Gigi often to remind her how to give hugs, which is perhaps one of the cutest and sweetest things I've ever read.
What stands out the most in Gigi, Are You In There?: Mia Learns About Alzheimer's is the magnificent artwork. I'm often wary of books that say they're "beautifully-illustrated," as they often oversell themselves. This book is definitely an exception! Not only are the pages full of beautiful artwork, but there's also a variety of art styles. Some pages are full of color while others are almost entirely monochromatic. One page looks like it came from a classic Disney movie, and another has a chibi-like quality to it. Some seem like sketches and others are highly detailed. Regardless of the style, every single page is remarkable, emotive, and captures what's written perfectly.
I absolutely fell in love with this children's book. It captures the subject matter so flawlessly, yet it's also adorable, funny, touching, and encouraging. It shows all of the sides of Alzheimer's, from the little girl and her mom happily helping out around the house to showing Mommy sitting sadly for a moment as she considers her life as a full-time caregiver and her mother's incurable disease. Gigi, Are You In There?: Mia Learns About Alzheimer's deserves more than 4 stars, but 4 out of 4 stars is the most I can possibly give. I wholeheartedly, unreservedly recommend it to anyone who has a child and a loved one with Alzheimer's. I'd also recommend it to anyone who enjoys touching, well-illustrated short stories. The only negative thing I have to say is that I found three grammatical errors, and only one of them is within the story itself.
Gigi are you in there ,
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