PERHAPS it is not the usual book review we are used to on The Conservative Woman but The Forgetful Elephant is a wonderful book which can be unhesitatingly recommended, either for a Christmas present or for reading over the holidays with children.

It is the story of a little elephant called Ellie who is going on a visit to her grandparents. Ellie is concerned because the last time she visited them her grandfather couldn’t remember who she was.

Ellie’s Mummy, Mrs Trunk, gently explains why Grandpa is forgetting things now. This is done in a respectful way which even small children can understand. After hearing her mother’s tender explanation about memory loss Ellie writes a poem urging everyone to ‘Have a little patience’, and finds ways to help her grandfather to remember her. At the end of the book Ellie sets off to visit her grandfather, a happier little elephant.

Author Irene Mackay has worked as a professional home support worker with Alzheimer Scotland. She draws from her own experience when her mother was diagnosed with dementia. This charming and sensitive book explains memory loss in a way children can understand without frightening them.

It is difficult for adults to cope with dementia in a loved one. Dementia can be unsettling, even frightening for young children, even more than it is for adults. Faced by the unknown children ask real questions expecting real answers. Adults can find it tough going explaining to a small child what is happening to someone they love when they are struggling with their own reactions. This very helpful book shows how even the very young can maintain relationships with a loved one who has dementia.

We find clear, honest, respectful and sensitive child-friendly answers given in a way that small children can understand. Those too young to read will enjoy the story itself as well as being reassured. The delightful colour illustrations by Italian artist Barbara Dessi complement the story wonderfully.

It’s not politics, economics or cultural struggle, it certainly is not Brexit and the Tory leadership, but I would encourage anyone, whether or not they are faced by this problem in the family, to buy The Forgetful Elephant and read it to their children or grandchildren.

The Forgetful Elephant by Irene Mackay

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