Today’s “Free Friday” on Neely’s News showcases “What a Beautiful Morning,” written by Arthur A. Levine and illustrated by Katie Kath. Throughout his book, Arthur A. Levine takes you through a young child’s journey as he watches his grandfather begin to lose his memory. This heartfelt story really hits home for those of us who have dealt with watching a love one lose their memory and those of us who have had to help a child cope with this type of situation.
The illustrations in this book were one of the first features of the book that caught my eye. This book is dealing with a hard topic for young children to understand: the topic of memory loss. Therefore, I found the light colors and beautiful brush strokes to be a very appropriate way to lighten up a book about this subject. However, the illustrator had a very good use of intentional colors. Throughout the book, when the grandfather is having a moment of memory loss or is getting confused, the illustrator shows this in the images by using gray and bland colors instead of the more vibrant colors used initially. The use of color throughout the illustrations serves as a great tool for young children when reading the book. The colors convey different feelings and emotions, feelings of confusion perhaps, that occur throughout the book.
As for the writing style, the author approaches this topic by having the story be told from the perspective of a narrator. While reading the book, you get to watch the story of the grandfather’s memory loss unfold before your eyes. Because we don’t have access to any of the inner thoughts of the characters, we as the readers have to use the pictures and context to get inside the character’s minds.
The young boy, Noah, plays an important role in the story. He is the key character, in my opinion, that really allows you children to use this book as a window or a mirror. I feel that this is a great book to read to children to help introduce them to these types of issues. Additionally, this book could be used to help children who may be struggling with a loved one losing their memory. In the story, Noah’s grandmother is a strong character who begins to take on the role that the grandfather once played. The grandmother still encourages Noah to be with his grandfather and interact with him in different ways than he is used to.
As the book progresses, Noah, with the help of his grandmother, is able to help his grandfather remember things and is able to interact with his grandfather through music. Singing songs is something this family does a lot and the songs help the grandfather remember what to do. This is something that I have personally experienced with my own grandmother who has lost her memory. There is some power to music that helps her to remember things and feel calm. Not only does the role of music act as a potential coping mechanism but it also is a great way for teachers to bring music and the arts into the classroom.
Overall, this book has come to hold a special place in my heart. Even for those of us who have not directly experienced memory loss, this book will tug at your heart but also help children to remember to make the best of everything no matter how hard.