This month I read to my children at bedtime, ‘The Tide’, written by Clare Helen Walsh and illustrated by Ashling Lindsay. The book was very poignant for us as a family as my children’s grandmother was slipping away from us at the time. Whilst the issue faced by the family in the book of dementia was different for us, it provoked an important discussion of nearing the end of life and the importance of making memories together as a family.
‘The Tide’ features a young girl spending the day at the beach with her grandpa, who is becoming more forgetful in his old age. Grandpa’s memories are like the tide, Mommy explains, sometimes, they’re near and full of life. Other times, they’re distant and quiet. In one scene we see him innocently burying their picnic sandwiches on the beach, whilst in another they are studying rock pools together in the intimate and knowledgeable way that only grandparents with their grandchildren can.
This is a lovely, thoughtful and gentle book that touches the reader deeply, even if they are not suffering from a similar situation. It teaches empathy and understanding to young readers as well as exposing them gently to the frustrations involved with taking care of an elderly person. It helps children see the issue from many perspectives and opens them up to discussions about life and death.
The illustrations are very beautiful in this book and add significantly to the simple text to give extra emotional depth and allow for reflection. I also LOVE the fact that the mummy on this story is of ‘normal’ size. This book really does celebrate the everyday person and the everyday moments in life! It is a quiet read with no bells and whistles but one that really tugs at the heart strings and gives us pause for thought. For any families with grandparents who are getting older or have long term illnesses, I would highly recommend you reading this book with your kids.