I remember seeing The Tide and its beautiful cover art propped up in the local indie bookshop window when it first debuted. I kept meaning to pick it up and page through, but then life and other distractions abounded, and I never quite got around to it. Then: pandemic.
So, when I saw Clare Helen Welsh promoting a new book on Twitter, I was thrilled to find it was she who wrote The Tide, and that it addresses dementia. Certainly, a timely topic for many children with ageing grandparents, but also specific to our family: my father has been living with dementia for almost 7 years.
Illustrated by Ashling Lindsay, The Tide is as gentle as the other CHW books I’ve read, with just the right amount of reality. The book centres around Grandad, seemingly in the early throes of the disease, as the child recounts her mother’s explanation of his condition, likening his memories to the tide: “Sometimes near and close and full of life. Other times, far away and distant.” It never lies but shields some of the harsher truths dementia brings.
What I particularly like about this book is it acknowledges how frustrating – even annoying – it can be to love someone with dementia. But in her writing CHW guides young readers not only to understand what’s going on with Grandad, but really sympathise with something that can feel pretty strange in their little worlds.
I read this to my daughter once, and already she has more vocabulary for what’s going on with her Papa. It is gentle and beautiful and a great tool for picture book-aged kids who might need a little help understanding what’s happening to a loved one.
The Tide by Clare Helen Welsh, illustrated by Ashling Lindsay. ©2019. Little Tiger Press, LTD.