Great-Uncle Alfred Forgets

Great-Uncle Alfred Forgets

by Ben Shecter

View All Available Formats & Editions

A young girl takes her great-uncle, who is afflicted with Alzheimer's disease, for a walk and gently and patiently answers all his seemingly absurd questions.


A young girl takes her great-uncle, who is afflicted with Alzheimer's disease, for a walk and gently and patiently answers all his seemingly absurd questions.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Unlike the uncertain purport of Alan Arkin's Some Fine Grandpa! (reviewed Aug. 28), which treats similar themes, the message here is clear-and poignantly delivered. When Emily visits her great-uncle, he is busy decorating a Christmas tree, and Emily must remind him what her name is, find his shoes and tie the laces before they can go for a walk. When he asks if he needs his coat, the child replies that it is hot outside ("Hot? Isn't it Christmas?'' he asks. "But what happened to winter? What happened to spring?"). The man's confusion grows even more apparent-until Emily asks him to tell her a story of his childhood, which he recalls with unmistakable clarity. Relaying his gentle, touching narrative almost entirely in dialogue, Shecter (When Will the Snow Trees Grow?) never once mentions the Alzheimer's disease from which Alfred obviously suffers. He thus wisely avoids any hint of the didactic, though adults may need to supplement the story if children are to appreciate its gist fully. The deep-toned, impressionistic art is effectively-and fittingly-hazy. Ages 4-8. (Feb.)
Children's Literature - Karen Moroughan
Great Uncle Alfred looks lost. You can see it in his eyes. This picture book solemnly explores Alzheimer's disease. The effects of the disease on Alfred are seen in his facial expressions even in the earliest pages. Alfred is forgetful. He can't remember what season it is. He decorates for Christmas, but that holiday has long since passed. It is summer outside. It is in the juxtaposition of the seasons that we see the destructiveness of the disease. As Emily helps him see that it is summer outside, we realize that he doesn't even know who Emily is. But it is Emily who takes his hand and leads him through the pages of this book. She quietly reminds him of whom she is. She helps him remember where his shoes are. She even takes him outside for a short stroll. Alfred is still confused, but more about the present than the past. Emily sits patiently with him as he tells stories of his childhood. He looks forward to more time when he can talk clearly about his past. Emily shows us all how we can be patient listeners. The book provides enough for children to experience the confusion that comes with Alzheimer's disease without frightening them.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3A gentle story of a young child's experience with a beloved relative's declining mental ability due to Alzheimer's Disease. Young Emily accepts Great-Uncle Alfred as he is-his forgetfulness, his odd behavior, and his fears. She helps him arrange flowers in the fish's bowl, decorate his Christmas tree in mid-summer, and find and tie his shoes. She looks forward to his stories about his boyhood, which still remain clear in his mind. The text is simple and spare, relating only their conversation; there is no discussion or explanation of his condition. The illustrations say as much as the text about how much these two care for one another. The use of the warm, subdued colors of late summer and the rough-textured tempera, colored-pencil, and pastel illustrations echo the elderly man's time of life. Two wordless double-page spreads add quiet space, letting time stand still for a moment. The story ends on a poignant note-the two are shown silhouetted behind white sheets, Emily leading her great-uncle toward whatever may lie ahead. This understated book is perfect for sharing with anyone who must learn how life can change people.Virginia Golodetz, St. Michael's College, Winooski, VT

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st ed
Product dimensions:
8.46(w) x 9.89(h) x 0.41(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >