Fils cadet and I made one of our high-speed library dashes on Saturday, where he pulled out several books at random on the basis that “We haven’t got this one at home, have we Mummy?” One of them was Mile-High Apple Pie by Laura Langston, illustrated by Lindsey Gardiner (Red Fox, 2004).
I had no idea what it was about when I picked it up and started to look through – having failed to read the back of the book first. Fortunately, both boys were reading another story with mari at the time, as I was struggling to hold back the tears. Goodness knows what I’ll be like if fc actually wants me to read it to him. (Sometimes he gets books out of the library, forgets about them and returns them unread…)
Anyway, this is the story of a little girl called Margaret and her grandma who lives with them because she is suffering from dementia.
“My grandma lives with us now because she can’t remember. She is not the wrinkled kind; she’s the special kind instead. She wears trainers with yellow laces and she laughs very loud. Once she had a houseboat and an art gallery by the sea. Then she played the piano and made Mile-High Apple Pie. Now she sits in her special chair and rocks quick, quick, quick.”
Grandma and Margaret have a lovely relationship and play together often. Then Grandma’s memory gets worse and she can’t remember Margaret at all.
“My head goes all whooshy; my eyes start to sting. Grandma can’t remember who I am.”
Grandma still loves Margaret though, and that shines through the text. In the end Margaret realises:
“I am Margaret. I am your remembering.”
The illustrations by Lindsey Gardiner are beautiful and warm. They show a real family coping with a real problem in a child-friendly style, and perfectly compliment Laura Langston’s moving, yet unsentimental text. I think this book would be a real help for a small child with a relative with dementia and it’s a lovely touch that it includes the recipe for mile-high apple pie at the end.