written by Phil Cummings; illustrated by Owen Swan
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
"Grandpa," said Georgie, "do you remember me?"
Georgie and her father are visiting her grandfather who lives in a home. As they approach his sky blue door, she wants to know if he will remember her. Grandpa sits in an easy chair with stacks of newspapers surrounding him. Georgie asks if he remembers her. He takes a framed photograph off a shelf and talks about remembering his brother and tadpoles in a can. On the opposite page is a sweet illustration of the sepia-toned memory. Georgie asks her question again. This time, Grandpa holds a picture and remembers his mother in the kitchen baking bread and honey melting on his fingers. Undaunted, Georgie asks a third time. Grandpa recalls being scared while listening to the chopper blades while he was in the jungle. Georgie embraces and comforts him. Taking a different tack, she grabs a photo of herself, Dad, and Grandpa. In the picture, she is wearing a newspaper hat that he made. Grandpa remembers that he loves newspaper hats but doesn't remember her. He quickly makes several hats which they share with fellow members of the home who have congregated in the garden. Georgie can still connect with her grandfather even though it's in a different way.
As I have gotten older, I have switched to drinking half sweetened and half unsweetened tea. It's much less sweet, but still very satisfying. I feel the same way about Newspaper Hats. It might have been tempting for Phil Cummings, the author, to have Grandpa briefly remember Georgie, but it doesn't happen. This story stays true to Grandpa's condition and gives us a less sweet, but more satisfying ending. It's still sweet enough to share with children to help them understand what it's like for people who suffer from Alzheimer's disease and for the families who love them.