First-person narration from a likable 7-year-old boy describes how he is adapting to the changes that follow once his grandfather moves in after experiencing increased memory loss.
Zafrilla gives Oscar a straightforward yet caring voice to address readers, successfully drawing them into his world, where Grandpa Monty acts strangely, and his family needs to share responsibilities for his care. At first, Grandpa’s actions seemed a bit funny, ironing a fish and trying to open a tree with mailbox keys. But safety becomes a concern, so he moves in, and family members take turns being with Monty so he is never alone. In an effort to help his grandfather, Oscar devises ways to help him “exercise” his memory. The duo look at old photo albums, read the newspaper and do math. Oscar creates a “ ‘word album,’ which [is] really a miniature dictionary with…words from around [the] house.” Diaz ably reflects the text and extends it with gentle touches of humor; Monty takes a sip out of a flower vase and lobs a pumpkin at the basketball hoop. The ending, however, may seem oddly open-ended. Oscar decides to make another album with the names of the states and capitals to further help exercise Grandpa’s memory and to study his lessons at the same time. So the last line questions, “Do you make albums with everything you learn, too?”
This well-intentioned effort will surely comfort children coping with similar situations and may lead to further discussions on how children can help when someone is unwell. (Picture book. 5-8)