Today, I’m taking a departure from what I’m usually comfortable discussing. While my passions lie with mediums like manga and video games, when pieces outside these realms move me, I almost feel a duty to showcase them. Particularly when said pieces cater to an audience at least a decade younger than me. Yet, I’ve been fortunate enough to find an outstanding children’s book, one that possesses all the right qualities for engaging young readers, while exploring with it an important, and often abstract issue.
My Book about Brains, Change and Dementia is an excellent resource for discussing the impacts of dementia within a family for young children. An issue, mind you, that doesn’t seem to have enough of this type of content supported. I can only imagine what it would be like having to deal with this issue now, as an adult (somewhat). To then have to try and explain these changes to a young child seems a daunting task, one I would struggle to undertake. I must commend Dementia Australia, author Lynda Moore and artist George Haddon for undergoing a project which may seem niche to some, but to most an invaluable resource describing the second leading cause of death in Australia. It’s estimated that just under 450,000 Australians are living with dementia, a number that is expected to gradually increase over the next ten years. No doubt a majority of these sufferers have younger family members, and I’d like to think the popularisation of this and similar resources would bring with it a sense of relief.
Moore does an excellent job describing dementia in a way accessible to children. She is able to be insightful as opposed to overwhelming, which seems almost impossible when discussing such a serious condition. In fact, the book often dispels misconceptions that might be had of such a frightening disease, providing its course in a digestible manner. The analogies used provide examples that are easy to understand (“[the brain] drives our body a bit like a person drives a car”) and ascribe meaning on abstract concepts through things children can understand. Despite this, Moore does not mitigate the severity of the disorder. At first this was confronting, but the points discussed are essential in adjusting children to their situation. As is noted in the “Guide for Grown-ups” at the beginning, “the reality can be less frightening for a child than the unknown”.
George Haddon’s art provides great supplementary content that further simplifies and converts the information given to children into something easily comprehensible. The art’s simplicity also lessons the harshness of the information, reinforcing the delicate balance that must be respected when discussing delicate subjects. I also enjoyed seeing a diverse range of genders and ethnicities being represented, creating an inclusive atmosphere for its readers.
What’s important about this piece isn’t just the information it provides on Dementia. The book also facilitates discussions on the matter, and opens a dialogue not only about the disease, but also the feelings a child may be experiencing as a result of it. It never intends to further overwhelm its reader, but instead reassures them that their feelings are completely natural, and discusses potential options for mitigating negative feelings (“It can help to share your feelings”, “What else makes you feel better?”). With this, a personalised and supportive network is stressed – it reassures them that we understand how they feel, and that they aren’t alone. It’s a great starting point for adjusting a young child to a situation they have no doubt noticed beginning to occur.
Again, I cannot stress how much nuance must have gone into designing this book. It is simple and succinct, like a good picture-book should be, but still brings with it invaluable insight from the leading experts on dementia. I’d highly recommend this piece, whether it’s to assist in the process your family may be going through, or just to support Dementia Australia, and with it future works in a similar vein.
Below is a link for where to purchase My Book about Brains, Change and Dementia amongst other major book retailers;