If you are looking for a story about understanding aging, disabilities, acceptance, and compassion, then this multigenerational book is for you. This is a story of a little boy, Joey, who goes on the first hike of the season in the mountains with his grandpa. His grandpa has changed over the winter. He talks real loud in his noisy truck, he is using walking sticks on the hike, he can't keep up with his grandson like he had last year, he trips on a rock and looks funny when he reads a pocket bird book, and he can't spot things in the woods like he used to last year. What's wrong with Grandpa? He's not the same. This makes 7 year old Joey sad and upset. Grandpa and Joey sit down, have a snack, and discuss what's happening, the changes that Grandpa is experiencing. Joey thought his grandpa would stay the same forever and didn't understand that his grandpa was going through the natural process of aging. This beautifully illustrated book that takes place in a breathtaking mountain setting with nature all around is a great story to help explain the impacts of aging and how it doesn't change the love a grandparent or aging person has for a child. There are thought provoking questions at the end of the story to clarify and reinforce the concepts of the story. This is a wonderful story for grandparents to share with their grandchildren.
Sonja Lange Wendt is an award-winning author of the Cultivating Compassion in Children books series. Her books are intergenerational and address important and sometimes difficult topics with children on inclusion, acceptance, disabilities, bullying and aging. Serina and Seymour Seed kick off and end each story. Seymour and Serina are the seeds of compassion children have, but sometimes they need planting and nurturing to cultivate the best in them. Through increasing awareness, understanding and discussion, these books teach that using compassion in different situations shows kindness in the greatest way in this sometimes difficult to navigate world.
Sonja uses a variety of setting and characters from grandparents, little girl, little boy, and bugs to engage children in the stories. The settings all include nature and the outdoors. Each story ends with thought provoking questions to be asked by the adult and discussed with the child.
These books are generally fitting for children ages 4-8 but as C.S. Lewis states, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” Her books are brilliantly illustrated with vivid colors and scenery.
When we view a situation, do we really understand what's happening? Sometimes we need a magnifying glass to see the "bigger" picture. This story has many incidents that little Joey is misunderstanding. He doesn't realize that his grandpa is physically changing as he gets older. He misinterprets them and thinks his grandpa is mad at him, doesn't want to run and play with him like he did before, acts strangely, and as a result, questions whether his grandpa still loves him anymore. Finally, through conversation with his grandpa while sitting on a rock on a Colorado mountain trail, Joey gains a greater understanding of what's naturally happening with his grandpa, thereby deepening their love for each other. This book promotes discussion of aging and the onset of disabilities that may come as a result, strengthening compassion and kindness between the generations.