The other day I spoke with Paulette Sharkey about her book A DOLL FOR GRANDMA.
Favorite type of tree?
Paulette: Weeping willow. Such a graceful tree!
Favorite place you’ve visited?
Paulette: Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef.
What kind of environment do you prefer to write in?
Paulette: I’m happiest writing in my upstairs home office, which offers a nice view of squirrels scampering through the evergreens when I need a break from staring at my computer screen.
What’s your favorite part of the writing process?
Paulette: I used to be a reference librarian, so I enjoy research. I’m working on a picture book biography of 19th century pianist Clara Schumann, and always seem to be finding another bit of interesting information I want to include.
A DOLL FOR GRANDMA gives children a gentle introduction to dementia. What was the inspiration behind this book?
Paulette: For the past 15 years, I’ve played the piano as a volunteer in memory care homes. I’ve also cared for two family members with dementia. Those experiences inspired me to write A DOLL FOR GRANDMA. In the U.S., more than 6 million people have Alzheimer’s, so most children now live in families touched in some way by the disease. I wanted to write a book to help parents start a conversation about Alzheimer’s, and to show children that even with dementia, people still feel love and joy.
What are some ways that adults and children can help the memory loss community?
Paulette: The very best thing you can do for people with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia is accept their altered sense of reality. Don’t correct them and try to bring them back into our world, join them in theirs. Treat them with empathy and kindness. This is the behavior that the little girl in A DOLL FOR GRANDMA models.
You can view a series of short videos at DementiaFriendsUSA.org to learn small, practical ways to help people with memory loss continue to feel a part of your community.
Illustrations by Samantha Woo