About the Book
Title: GG and Mamela | Author: Belinda Brock | Illustrator: Avi Katz | Publication Date: April 15, 2014 | Publisher: Lamb Press | Pages: 32 | Recommended Ages: 4 to 10
Summary: This picture book celebrates the loving relationship between Lily and her great-grandmother (GG) as her life starts to slow and wind down in hospice. GG and Mamela illustrates how strength and comfort can be found through love, family and tradition. This book offers a gentle and open-ended way to start a conversation about death and dying, as well as introduce the concept of hospice care. The talented, award-winning artist, Avi Katz, provides beautifully-rendered illustrations that perfectly complement this heartwarming story. The book concludes with GG’s recipe for chicken soup and an afterword by clinical psychologist Dr. Laura Brock.
My Thoughts: GG and Mamela is a beautifully illustrated and heartwarming story about the special bond between a great-grandmother and her great-granddaughter. GG (short for great-grandmother) and Mamela (a love name for the little girl in the story, Lily) enjoy making chicken soup together, reading together, and spending time together. One day, Lily learns that her GG is ill and has been moved into a special hospital called a hospice. Lily and her GG spend a few more magical moments together until it is time to say the final goodbye.
GG and Mamela tugged at my heart-strings from the opening page to the final wordless illustration. Anyone who has had the privilege of sharing a close relationship with a grandparent will be moved by this story. My daughter was very close with her grandmother who died of lung cancer when she was four years old. Like Lily in the story, our family would visit Grandma in the palliative care wing of the hospital in the final weeks of her life. This book would have been so helpful in opening up discussions pertaining to the thoughts and emotions she experienced around her grandmother’s death.
There are so many things that are incredibly well done in this wonderful picture book dealing with a very difficult topic. I love the significance of the chicken soup and how Lily and GG make the soup in the beginning, but then Lily and her Dad make it again later in the book, keeping alive that special memory of spending time together in the kitchen. The author even goes so far as to include that famous GG Chicken Soup Recipe at the back of the book (with secret ingredient listed and all!) Want a peek? Head on over to Mami Tales where the recipe is posted.
The author also does a great job of introducing GG’s change in health and subsequent admission into the hospice. The focus of the story is on the relationship between GG and Mamela with less emphasis on illness and death. GG’s declining health is evident, but there is gentleness and acceptance in the story that will prevent children from feeling frightened. There is an afterword for parents and caregivers at the very back of the book, written by the author’s daughter, Dr. Laura Brock (a clinical psychologist) which covers many topics including explaining how children may experience death and illness of a loved one and including suggestions for how to speak to children about these topics. This is an excellent addition to the book.
I don’t even know where to begin with the illustrations. If shapes and colors can capture mood, then the illustrator of GG and Mamela, Avi Katz, nails it beautifully. The watercolor pictures are just so gorgeous and they go hand in hand with the text in providing the reader with a great sense of what Lily is experiencing as she journeys from enjoying her time spent with her loving GG to the time she must say goodbye. The two-page spread above (without the text) brought tears to my eyes. This is simply a beautiful book.
My Bottom Line: GG and Mamela is a beautifully illustrated and heartwarming picture book featuring a special relationship between a little girl, Lily (aka Mamela) and her great-grandmother (aka GG) who suddenly becomes ill and has to be moved into hospice care. The story deals with the issue of dying and death with gentleness and in an age-appropriate way. As a bonus, there is a guide for parents and caregivers in the back of the book as well as a recipe for Chicken Soup. I highly recommend this book for families wanting to open a discussion about dying, death, and/or hospice care with their children. Ages 4 to 10.
* This book was provided to me free-of-charge from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. The author is participating in our Book Promotion services.
The Early Buzz
“…simple but emotionally resonant illustrations…a nice, true-to-life touch…The book pairs an ethereal illustration with lyrical text, which truly captures the healing, transporting power of music in this setting. A welcome addition to children’s literature about death and dying.” ~ Kirkus Reviews
“This book is beautifully written and illustrated. The author takes a difficult subject and weaves a story full of life lessons. The universal themes of life, death, family, loss,and chicken soup are shared through a child’s eyes and remind us that even after one dies, love remains.” ~ Jamie O’Malley, President and CEO, Midwest Palliative and Hospice CareCenter
“GG and Mamela is a large helping of Chicken Soup for the heart and soul. It helps children cope with the death of a loved one in gentle and understanding terms. Belinda Brock has done a great service for children and parents alike.” ~ Rabbi Evan Moffic, Spiritual Leader of Congregation Solel and Author
“This is a WONDERFUL story for families who are grappling with loss, death and dying. This is a wonderful story about a special relationship between a girl and her great grandmother at the end of her beautiful life. Very moving story, perfect for children!!” ~ 5 Star Review, Laura, Goodreads
About the Author: Belinda Brock
Currently a writing coach and free-lance editor, Belinda Brock‘s background is in teaching and educational publishing. She loves the intersection of literature and art found in picture books and believes their appeal and benefit extend beyond childhood. She also enjoys farmers’ markets, dreaming up soup recipes and Meatless Mondays. Although she didn’t become a librarian as she once considered, she is the sponsor and steward of the Little Free Library in her city. She has been known to stay up past her bedtime reading. Belinda writes about literacy, children and books on her blog–grandbooking–at http://belindabrock.com and also at Highland Park Sun-Times where you can check out this great interview with Belinda.
GG and Mamela Blog Tour Schedule (2014)
* Blog Tour Giveaway *
Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)
Contest ends: June 6, 11:59 pm, 2014
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Belinda Brock and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.
* This giveaway has been listed at http://www.online-sweepstakes.com/