GG and Mamela
by Belinda Brock
Illustrated by Avi Katz
Ages: 4 to 10
This picture book celebrates the loving relationship between Lily and her great-grandmother (GG) as her life starts to slow and wind down in hospice. GG and Mamela illustrates how strength and comfort can be found through love, family and tradition. This book offers a gentle and open-ended way to start a conversation about death and dying, as well as introduce the concept of hospice care. The talented, award-winning artist, Avi Katz, provides beautifully-rendered illustrations that perfectly complement this heartwarming story. The book concludes with GG's recipe for chicken soup and an afterword by clinical psychologist Dr. Laura Brock.
This is a picture book designed to deal with a difficult topic, and it does so with careful and heart-warming love.
I read this with my 7 yr. old and wasn't so sure how she'd like it. The illustrations (though lovely) aren't the industrial kind kids are accustom to seeing, but my daughter loved them as much as I. She was quickly pulled into the story and listened quietly (not the normal giggles and pointing). The words and text made set her in deep thought. Yep, she understood the relationship between GG and Mamela and sympathized with it.
The only trouble she had was deciphering who GG and Mamela exactly were. For some reason, it took a couple pages for that to really sink in and I had to clarify who was who a couple of times.
The main topic of the story is a sensitive one -- death of a loved one. Yes, my daughter swallowed when the father told Mamela that everything dies. He didn't say it directly, but the wording was so masterfully done that my daughter definitely understood. And agreed. Death is a normal passage of life. The next pages, she even commented how GG looked as if she was about to die: tired and old.
In other words, this is a lovely crafted book, which does a marvelous job dealing with a very difficult topic. I recommend that parents read it themselves before presenting it to their children, simply because children deal differently with such things. I'm not sure this story is for every child, but mine enjoyed it and understood it.
I give this a big:
TWO THUMBS UP!!!
The Early Buzz
"...simple but emotionally resonant illustrations...a nice, true-to-life touch...The book pairs an ethereal illustration with lyrical text, which truly captures the healing, transporting power of music in this setting. A welcome addition to children's literature about death and dying." ~ Kirkus Reviews
"This book is beautifully written and illustrated. The author takes a difficult subject and weaves a story full of life lessons. The universal themes of life, death, family, loss,and chicken soup are shared through a child's eyes and remind us that even after one dies, love remains." ~ Jamie O'Malley, President and CEO, Midwest Palliative and Hospice CareCenter
"GG and Mamela is a large helping of Chicken Soup for the heart and soul. It helps children cope with the death of a loved one in gentle and understanding terms. Belinda Brock has done a great service for children and parents alike." ~ Rabbi Evan Moffic, Spiritual Leader of Congregation Solel and Author
"This is a WONDERFUL story for families who are grappling with loss, death and dying. This is a wonderful story about a special relationship between a girl and her great grandmother at the end of her beautiful life. Very moving story, perfect for children!!" ~ 5 Star Review, Laura, Goodreads
And here she is. . .
Currently a writing coach and free-lance editor, Belinda Brock's background is in teaching and educational publishing. She loves the intersection of literature and art found in picture books and believes their appeal and benefit extend beyond childhood. She also enjoys farmers' markets, dreaming up soup recipes and Meatless Mondays. Although she didn't become a librarian as she once considered, she is the sponsor and steward of the Little Free Library in her city. She has been known to stay up past her bedtime reading. Belinda writes about literacy, children and books on her blog--grandbooking--at http://belindabrock.com and also at Highland Park Sun-Times where you can check out this great interview with Belinda.