cover image The Memory Box

The Memory Box

Mary Bahr. Albert Whitman & Company, $14.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-8075-5052-6

Gramps sometimes forgets to shave, cuts his feet when he accidentally leaves home without shoes on and talks to a daughter who isn't there. The problem is Alzheimer's disease: he knows it, Gram knows it and young Zach, the narrator, knows it. The memory box is a small carved wooden treasure chest of bits of paper recording the good times, filled by the three of them. This picture book for middle readers refreshingly features a family that talks about difficult topics--and whose members, including Gramps himself, find a way to heal their wounds. When Gramps wanders off, the boy ``helped him back to the house. Led him, if you want to know the truth.'' Rich, uncomplicated illustrations deftly delineate the scene--the berry red house on a lake, quiet blue water, deer in the tall grass--and the players in this quiet and touching drama. Love and reassurance fill these pages--along with the sadness of loss and knowledge that there is more to come. Ages 7-11. (Mar.)