Gentle introduction to dementia for kids: ‘Dancing with Memories’ by Sally Yule & Cheryl Orsini
July 11, 2022
If you’ve followed by blog for a bit you’d be familiar with the series of posts I wrote called Travels with my Mother, all about my journey with my Mum’s dementia. Mum passed away last year but the memories of her experiences, and the family’s with her, are still quite fresh. So I was keen to read Dancing with Memories, a unique picture book by Australian dementia care worker Sally Yule and illustrator Cheryl Orsini.
I love the idea of introducing this often misunderstood condition to kids, in an age-appropriate and gentle way. I also applaud the themes of respect, dignity and agency for the person with dementia. Another special thing about the book is that it contributes to understanding of brain health through a little Q&A at the end of the book (by Professor Ralph Martins) and some healthy recipes from Maggie Beer. In this way, the authors plant the idea that brain health starts young!
Best of all, the book tells a story, all about Lucy, who is excited about going to her granddaughter’s wedding.
I am Lucy and I dance with memories. Sometimes I remember. Sometimes I forget. Sometimes I remember that I forget. Sometimes I forget that I remember… My doctor says I have dementia. I wish I didn’t but I do. ‘Your brain has changed’, she says, ‘but you are still Lucy.’ She knows that I have a brain AND a heart.
Dancing with Memories
Young readers will go with Lucy on her adventure: she gets lost on her way to the wedding, but a supportive community and local friends set all to rights again and by the end of the story, Lucy is dancing with her granddaughter, along with her memories.
The illustrations are gentle, joyful and colourful and they help to centre the person with dementia within their family, home, and neighbourhood – which is as it should be.
I would suggest that every doctor’s waiting room should have a copy of this book, as well as public and school libraries and places offering services to people with dementia and their families. It will go a long way to demystify the illness and allow kids to continue to love their family member or friend with dementia without feeling frightened or confused.
An interview with the team behind the book can be found here, if you’d like to know more about the project.
Dancing with Memories is published by HarperCollins in July 2022. My thanks to the publishers for a review copy.