FICTION

What a Beautiful Morning

illus. by Katie Kath. 40p. Running Pr. Kids. Aug. 2016. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780762459063.
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PreS-Gr 2—Noah loves visiting his grandparents and especially spending time with Grandpa. Summer days there always begin with a "booming song" about a beautiful morning. Grandma is no morning up-and-at-'em person, so Noah and Grandpa bring her a nice cup of coffee to help her day get started. Then they go for a walk with the dog, rain or shine, singing all the way. Back home for breakfast, they make their plans and check "what's on the docket" for the day. This particular summer, however, things are different. Grandpa forgets to ask about the docket, and one morning he can't even remember how to cut his French toast. Even worse, one day Grandpa fails to recognize Noah when he wakes up from a nap. These changes are scary and make Noah very sad. Grandma tries to explain and helps Noah focus on appreciating "what [Grandpa] still has…not on what he's lost," even though that means some days Noah completes his docket all by himself. One day when Noah is playing the piano and singing loudly, Grandpa joins in, just like old times. Lunch goes pretty well, too, as Noah sings Grandpa's favorite Tuna Fish Sandwich Song. But it's not really the same anymore. So Grandma and Noah come up with a docket plan themselves while Grandpa naps. Some days for Noah and Grandpa seem like old times, and some don't, but they'll go on their walks together still, singing "as long as the song would last." Kath's charming illustrations are done in watercolor and ink. She hints at Grandpa's state of mind by changing the color of his shirt and scenery from full color to grays as the dementia takes over. The layout is easy on the eye, and the book remains child focused and upbeat.
VERDICT This sweet and tender story about dealing with change and loss is suitable for sharing in a group or one-on-one. No happy ending here, but a satisfyingly realistic one all the same.

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