Travels with my Granny by Juliet Rix and Christopher Corr
What's it about?
Granny trekked all over the world in her youth. Now she is older, she travels with her mind. Sometimes her granddaughter accompanies Granny on her journeys, and they share marvellous adventures.
What can we learn?
Travels with my Granny teaches children about a variety of countries and continents in an extremely enjoyable way. The story can be interpreted as a fabulous flight of fantasy, but it's also an interesting exploration of dementia. A helpful note at the end discusses dementia in more detail and advises against correcting people who are "travelling" like Granny. The author writes that, "some experts say it's better to let them 'travel,' especially if it makes them happy. That is what the child in this story does with her granny - and it's fun for them both."
What makes this story stand out? It's such a positive and uplifting portrayal of the special bond between grandparents and grandchildren. Travels with my Granny is a sensitive and original treatment of dementia, ideal for explaining this condition to young people. It's also an excellent way of encouraging empathy and compassion towards all people who process things differently to us.
I love how the grandchild appears to understand her grandmother's condition better than any of the adults. She is more tolerant of Granny than the grown-ups who say Granny is confused. My favourite line is when the granddaughter says that Granny, "knows exactly where she is, it just isn't where the grown-ups are." This is such a thoughtful and dignified way of describing dementia. The elegant text is simple but powerful, and the illustrations are out-of-this-world.
About those illustrations...
They're extremely colourful and vibrant and among the finest I've ever seen. Author Juliet Rix kindly sent me an electronic version of Travels with my Granny to review. When I saw the illustrations, I had to own the "real" book and ended up buying a hard copy. I would love to decorate my home with framed prints of all the spreads from this book, it's just so gorgeous.
Christopher Corr's work reminds me of Matisse and Joan Miró. I was surprised to discover Christopher is British as I imagined he was from a Mediterranean country and that this had influenced his art! From bustling cities to breathtaking landscapes, stunning sunsets and star-filled skies - the scenes are all incredibly beautiful. The child in the book looks androgynous, so every reader will be able to insert themselves into the story
Why we love it...
It's a wonderful celebration of the imagination and a moving account of the relationship between a grandchild and grandparent. I've already mentioned that I adore the illustrations. The story includes lots of information and fascinating facts about the countries visited, making this educational as well as entertaining.
There's also a fun interactive element as the endpapers at the back show a map of the world and the souvenirs Granny has found in various countries. Readers can match these pictures to the items in Granny's room and the places she has visited.
Why you need it...
If you (and your family) love books with exceptional illustrations and imaginative adventures, this is for you. If you need to gently explain dementia to children, this is perfect. If you are a teacher, this would make an excellent classroom resource. I could see it being useful for geography lessons, discussing grandparents, and inspiring art and craft activities.
About the author:
Juliet Rix is an award-winning freelance writer and broadcaster based in London. She has travelled to over 50 countries, on all seven continents. Juliet began her career with BBC Television and Radio and writes for the Guardian, Times, Telegraph and Independent as well as magazines and websites. Juliet has published books for adults and contributed to the Guardian's Rainy Day Book. Juliet's first children's book, A-Maze-Ing Minotaur, was published in 2014. Travels with my Granny has been translated into French and Dutch.
About the illustrator:
Christopher Corr studied at the Royal College of Art and now lives and works in London as an artist and tutor at Goldsmith’s University. He has written and illustrated several acclaimed books for children. The Little Fir Tree, an adaptation of a Hans Christian Andersen story, looks lovely - am going to have to get it in time for next Christmas! Deep in the Woods looks equally festive. Christopher has also illustrated A Year Full of Stories and A Year Full of Celebrations, and both of these look like they would make fabulous gifts.