Friday, March 22, 2013

Review: Brightness Sailors, Bit By Bit

Reviewer ~ Jackie Snider

When I was first asked if I was free to review, "Brightness Sailors, Bit by Bit" by Claudine Gueh & Cruel Hash Browns, I thought, ‘Sure, why not. I have free time.’ I was thinking about how I love introducing new children’s books to my 3-year-old daughter. Throughout my few days with the book, it became a much more personal experience for me.

The book follows a seven-year-old girl, En and her grandma. Grandma is suffering from what appears to be Alzheimer’s. 

“There’s a fickle stream in grandma’s head trickling, thrashing, dark and cold. Thoughts that fill her world are hard to hold. ” 

The author and illustrator draw a picture of the young girl, En, ‘sailing’ out to bring brightness (memories) back to grandma to relight her world; to chase away the shadows trying to overtake her mind. It was incredibly sweet, and beautifully written. The pictures are not over the top, and perfect for children to grasp the tough concept.

Reading this to my child, I first read it straight through and had a follow up discussion. She seemed to understand a little bit, but was slightly lost on the idea. It is not something she has dealt with in her own family that she knows of. After explaining it a little more in depth, we reread it. I explained about how sometimes, in old age, our brains no longer function as well as they use to. How, sometimes, our memories no longer stay intact, but how family can always help to remind. 

I read the book, stopping at intervals to explain the metaphors. Many times she exclaimed ‘Oh!’ in understanding. En, tells her grandma simple memories, like watching the birds, adding sugar to their coffee and toast alike. 

Proceeding the second reading, my daughter launched into a long story about how when her Nana (who might I add is far too young to worry about this any time soon! Hehe) has trouble remembering, she will definitely be there to remind her of all the fun things they have done together. She even threw in a few made up memories just for fun!

Just when I though I was ready to sit down and start the review writing, I found out some saddening news. My own Nana, whom I’ll admit, I haven’t spoken to in a while, is suffering the same troubles as En’s. She is having difficulties recognizing her own family members names and faces. She has also begun to rewrite some memories. She speaks of how my Papa passed in his 20’s, although he lived many decades passed that. So all of a sudden, this book hit home. As I read it for a third time, I found my self in tears by the end. I sincerely hope that this book can bring childlike wonder to adults and youth alike, as it has me.

After gathering info from Claudine, I learned that this is her second book. It was started just after the passing of her own grandma, Wai Po. Towards the end, she had a fickle stream, as the author would put it. By the time the book was finished and published, the author’s other grandma, who is thankfully still going strong, had begun to loose her grasp as well. You can hear the close at heart message throughout this book, and see it in the illustrations.

The brightness continues in a few venues. Claudine also wrote a small booklet available for free download for all called “A Little Book of Brightness” is sure to put a smile on your face. It also continues in blog form where all have been invited to take to their own blogs and share their own sunshiny threads about those close to them.

This is her ‘Let’s Spread Some Brightness’ project. This is what Claudine says,

“Let's Spread Some Brightness" ~ A Blogospread

What are the fickle-stream stories you have with your loved ones? Some of my friends shared their snippets here previously. I'd love to hear about yours in full. So how about forming a worldwide blogospread of Brightness?

Time: Any day {though hopefully very soon}
Venue: Your blog
Guidelines: Share a personal post on 'Spreading Brightness.' You could blog on:
1) your experience with a loved one who, like En's Grandma, has/had memories or thoughts leaking through a crack; or
2) how someone/something* has spread important Brightness to you; or
3) how you want to spread Brightness to a particular someone {a dear family or friend in need}.

* Your post doesn't have to be in writing. If there's a particular poem/song/picture/Art/quote that has brought Brightness into your world, please feel very free to share. My friends and I would love to read about it.”

 I would just like to take another moment to reiterate how much I enjoyed being the one to review this book, and I would recommend it to anyone dealing with this subject. Even if you aren’t, I think you could still benefit from introducing the reality of the subject to your little ones.
This book can be found at both Carry Us Off Books and Goodreads for just $1.99!

Claudine dedicated the book as follows, “For my two beloved grandmas, despite the fickle streams, our love will always be the same.” I would, in turn, like to dedicate this review to them, and my own Nana, as well.


This post was originally posted at WAHM Review and is being cross posted here by the original author.  I received no monetary compensation for this review, however I was provided with the product for free for purposes of review.  All opinions are my own. Click here see our full disclosure policy.

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