Clare Helen Welsh and Ashling Lindsay
What a heart-wrenchingly beautiful story Clare Helen Welsh’s little girl narrator tells as she talks of her beloved Grandad. ‘Mummy says that Grandad loves me very much but that sometimes he gets confused.’
We then spend a day with the family at the beach – the child, her mum and Grandpa set up camp and as Mum watches, child and Grandad build sand castles and forts, crown themselves ‘king and queen of net and shells’. They all share a picnic (Grandad gets confused and buries the sandwiches) and then they go rock pooling (Grandad and granddaughter) and watch the movement of the tide as it comes in.
Mum likens Grandad’s memories to the tide – ‘sometimes near and close and full of life. Other times, far away and distant.’
Their musings are broken by voices and the family proceed together to buy ice-creams and again child and grandfather watch the tide
before becoming ankle deep in sea-water.
All too soon it’s time to go home but first they must shake away and wash off the sand and salty water.
Then it’s back home to talk lovingly together about their shared day.
The likening of Grandad’s memory to the ebb and flow of the tide is both moving and enormously powerful: Clare has chosen the perfect figurative language to help children to begin to understand dementia and be at ease with the subject. And, I can think of no better illustrator than Ashling Lindsay whose work I’ve loved since seeing her very first picture book. Her warm colour palette here is just gorgeous, radiating the unconditional love that so clearly exists between family members, especially child and Grandad.
A must have for family collections and for primary schools to share and talk about together.