“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Grandfather's Story Cloth • Picture book

Grandfather's Story Cloth
Yawg Daim Paj Ntaub Dab Neeg
by Linda Gerdner and Sarah Langford illustrated by Stuart Loughridge
2009 Shen's Books Ages 4-8 Picture Book
Presented bilingually in English and Hmong, Grandfather's Story Cloth allows children and their loved ones not only to gain an understanding of Alzheimer's Disease, but also to share in the simplest act of pleasure and love -- that of reading together.
Story: Chersheng's grandfather is beginning to forget things...little tings like turning off the water faucet and big things like Chersheng's name. Chersheng feels sad and helpless when he learns that Grandfather has Alzheimer's Disease, but then Chersheng's mother presents him with a story cloth stitched by Grandfather himself, embroidered in the Hmong tradition. Through the story cloth, Grandfather's memories of his life in Laos come alive. And inspired by Grandfather's tales about his life before the war forced him to immigrate to America, Chersheng comes up with a plan to capture his family's new life with his own art project. This way, they can all remember that their love is stronger than Alzheimer's disease, no matter which country they live in.
Story behind the story: Author Linda Gerdner talks about the origins of the story: In 2002, I visited a northern province of Laos, where I had the unique opportunity to participate in the daily life of the people living in a Hmong village. There, and in the U.S., I learned that elders often lived in the home of a married son who had children of his own. These grandchildren often had difficulty understanding the progressive memory and behavioral changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease in their grandparents. I saw a need for a culturally meaningful picture book for Hmong-American children and their families to promote understanding and awareness of Alzheimer’s disease.

The story was written based on general themes from my research findings. For example, caring for an elder is generally viewed as being reciprocal of the love and care that the elder had provided to the younger generation of family members. Caregivers preserve these values for future generations by serving as role models. Grandfather’s Story Cloth was written to mirror these values. The book also introduces the idea of using a story cloth to stimulate Grandfather’s remote memory in an effort to promote understanding and communication between Chersheng and his grandfather. It was our desire to create a book that would be meaningful, educational, empowering and one that the community would also be proud of."


2009 NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book

2009 Mom's Choice Award

2009 Moonbeam Award Silver Medal

FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent. Please check back and look at the comments link to read what your colleagues have to say about it!


Martine Battista said...

What a beautiful story. I think the side by side English and Hmong translations will only increase the circulation of this book. Although I don't have any Hmong readers, many children are intrigued by languages. I often have kids check out the Spanish and English versions of books just to compare the words and teach themselves a few phrases. The additional information about Alzheimer's Disease and Story Cloths is appreciated as well. This is a touching and beautiful way to address dementia, a condition that affects so many families. I give it a 4.5.

Denair Elementary School Library
Denair, CA

Mrs. Horne said...

The minute I received this book I thought back to an ESL/ELL class I took this summer. We were required to bring in examples of multicultural picture books and this one would have been PERFECT!

The illustrations were endearing and the story was captivating. In recent years I watched my grandfathers struggle with a form of Alzheimer's so this really hit home for me.

I will definitely add this to my classroom library - it is a beautifully done portrait of a story that touches many families. I also love that it includes the side-by-side Hmong translations which takes this story a step further.

Fantastic book!

Picnic Basket Rating: 5/5

Lindsay Horne
New Kent Middle School
New Kent, VA

Barbara said...

This is a sensitive portrayal of a disease that many of our students see in their extended families and it explores a way that a young person can help to bridge the memory gap. The watercolor illustrations compliment this quiet storyline. As others have mentioned, having side-by-side translations increases its appeal and interest.

The author's notes on Alzheimer's and the Hmong people lend themselves to inclusions in class discussions of both aging and the Vietnam war.

Rating: 4

Ichabod Crane Middle School
Valatie, NY

Allyn Hunt said...

"Grandfather's Story Cloth" makes me want to peak into every classroom in the building to see if I can share this book with each class. The beautiful depiction of a young boy coming to grips with his beloved grandfather's Alzheimer's is so touching and poignant. It is also a disease that so many family members, including my own, are having to face. It shows children (and adults) that the disease knows no cultural or background barriers.

The additional component of showing the history of the Hmong people and the use of story clothes to pass on their history was beautifully woven into the dementia story line. Add the bilingual touch of presenting the text in English and Hmong is absolutely perfect.

So call me Little Red Riding Hood as I pack this book in my picnic basket. Thank you for the opportunity to review and share this book.

5 out of 5

Allyn Hunt
Middle School Language Arts Teacher
Fort Walton Beach, FL

Mary said...

I teach in a multi-cultural school district and this book would be perfect!! Many of my students live with grandparents, or have a close relationship with them. I feel that many of my kids would be able to relate to this story on many different levels.

The pictures are beautiful! The story is touching! A definite recommended read

5 out of 5.

Cori said...

This book was great. I thought it was wonderful how it had the two languages side by side for the students to see. The illustrations were beautiful and it can really help younger students understand what is happening if a their or a friend's grandparent is going through Alzheimer's.

EShay said...

A fantastic package. The pictures are beautiful and calming. The dual language aspect is interesting and informative. It would be nice for use in an ELL classroom. The information about Alzheimer's and the Hmong and story cloths was also helpful.

I found the ending to be a bit abrupt, but other than that it was a wonderful book.

I give it a 5.

janew said...

For this reader, who has both a parent with Alzheimer's and lived wide-awake through the Viet Nam 'conflict', Grandfather's Story Cloth brought me to tears. What a beautifully written and illustrated book...A 5++ by all standards. The new learning children will gain from the side-by-side English and Hmong texts,the strong themes of love, loss, and family,and the age-appropriate Notes on Alzheimer's disease and the Hmong and Story Cloths will satisfy the curious. Shen Books supplemental material is rich with information and should not be missed. I will be sure to promote this book as much and as often as I can.
Thank you.

Julia Pitau said...

Grandfather’s Story Cloth has a recommended reading audience of grades K-3. Alzheimer’s disease is a sad story to be told whether fiction or non-fiction and sad is just how I felt as I read the story of a little boy trying to understand what was happening to his grandfather. The watercolor illustrations gave the illusion that the pictures had been left out in the rain with most of the faces looking sad and depressed. After reading the story, I passed it on to one of my colleagues who has a second grader at home. At the time, I did not know the family was dealing with this very same disease. The person wasn’t quite sure they wanted to read this book to their child. The next day, the book was returned to me unread. I completely understood. This is not a book I would have wanted a school to share with my children when they were younger. It is a personal choice. I understand that some things, such as dementia, are a fact of life. However, there is a place and time appropriate to discuss these issues with our loved ones and that determination needs to be made by each individual parent.

I give this book a Picnic rating of 2 because I would recommend it but only under certain reading situations.

Denair Charter Academy
Denair, CA

Megan B. said...

Grandfather’s Story Cloth is beautifully written and illustrated. However, I am unsure of its target age of 4-8. While it is written in a very delicate manner about such a saddening subject, I would say this story is more appropriate for children ages 6 and older. Unless the child is dealing with this in his or her own family, I would be hesitant to recommend this, just because I believe children should be kept innocent as long as possible. If the child is 6 or older, though, and is dealing with a family illness such as Alzheimer’s disease, I would definitely recommend it. Because of that, I think I would give it a rating of. Love the story, the illustrations and the side by side translation, but I would only recommend it under certain circumstances.

Tina's Blog said...

Grandfather's Story Cloth by Linda Gerdner and Sarah Langford is a wonderful story. This book is written in English and Hmong, as both Gerdner and Langford have interest and a background in immigrant needs and Laos in particular. This book was also produced in cooperation of the Extendicare Foundation which focuses on research, education and service related programs pertaining to Alzheimer's Disease.
Grandfather lives with Chersheng, his grandson and the rest of Chersheng's family. While they know that grandfather forgets things - like turning off the water, or where he is living, he has never forgotten something really important- like his grandson. When he forgets who Chersheng is and tells him he does not have a grandson, Chersheng is crushed. There is good information in this book about dealing with Alzheimer's and what to expect. Chersheng's mother explains to him in a way he can understand what is happening to his beloved grandfather. She also is able to share with him the story cloth Grandfather made that illustrates the events in his life. Chersheng truly cherishes this gift and then begins to draw his own story cloth. When Chersheng shares his drawing with Grandfather the two connect again as Grandfather is able to remember bits of his past.
I can see so many uses for this book - as a look at a different culture. There is information about story cloths and the Hmong culture. This is also a great resource for students who may have family members suffering from Alzheimers disease. And, the illustrations in this book are beautiful. This could also be used as a springboard to create your own story cloth about your life or that of your family. A wonderful addition to a school or public library.
Rating 5/5

ahslibrarian said...

Sometimes we often forget that Alzheimer’s can and does visit without respect to culture. Sometimes, the stories are our own, but told in a different setting. Power exudes from the story cloth and from the memories of those changed by the disease. It is a disease that is misunderstood by kids and grownups alike. The creative team tackles these problems and communicates how one family dealt with these growing problems.

The book offers some great cultural insights and should be valuable to any diversity program. However, the book became much more personal because we had my father and three-year old grandson both with us for a week this summer. We shared the story and our own version of the story cloth. However awkward, painful, or different, we must take the time to engage one another and relate the present to the past.

The book accomplishes much, but it might have taken the dialogue between Tou and Chersheng to a level beyond the capacity of the three-year-old Tou. Tou’s evaluative comments about Grandfather on page 18 are not believable. One can accept a three-year-old saying someone is stupid, but it is hard to believe that he would declare, “He’s always forgetting. He’s useless.” The comments are more universally acceptable from an older child, but the dialogue between brothers is still appropriate and necessary.

Books that tackle tough problems across cultures are valuable. Books that can do it across generations are even more valuable and this one delivers despite the shortcoming. Add it to collections in the library or classroom and do not hesitate to give it to a family to read together who is dealing with the uncomfortable feelings brought on by the aging process or dementia.

4 out of 5

John Parker
Media Coordinator
Andrews High School
50 HS Drive
Andrews, NC 28901


Danielle said...

Grandfather's Story Cloth is about a young boy whose grandfather has Alzheimer's Disease and is written in both English and Hmong. Included in the back is information on Alzheimer's Disease and Hmong and Story Cloths. This is a good book to read with a child whose life is touched by someone with Alzheimer's. However, I believe that it is for an older child than it is advertised for. I think that it's more appropriate for ages 7 and up. For this reason, I give it a 3 out of 5.

Pat K. said...

As the cloth that Grandfather made, this story is also richly woven. The tale of a journey from another land, a land of suffering and war,, to a land of freedom only to loose that freedom to a cruel debiitating disease. This is a story that tells so much on many levels. The inclusion of the text in Hmong and the beautiful illustrations make the story more "real". Once again, Shen's Books gives us a story that touches the heart of many. Bravo and thank you! A definite 5 from my picnic basket.

Pat Kramer
Palm Harbor, FL

Barbara said...

Grandfather's Story Cloth is a charming story that works on many levels. It's a story of family love as young Cherseng watches not only the effects of Alzheimer's Disease on his Grandfather, but his family's loyal and loving care of the beloved patriarch. Cherseng shows compassion by making a Hmong story "cloth," a collage to help his Grandfather remember family milestones.
This is a perfect book to share, whether studying or discussing Laotian culture, family, art, or living with Alzheimer's Disease.
Rating - 5/5

Barbara Winterberger
School Librarian
Henry Lomb School #20
Rochester, NY

Sandra Stiles said...

Grandfather's Story Cloth was one that so many people can relate to no matter what their cultural background. Chersheng's grandfather has Alzheimer's disease. He doesn't always remember his family, the time period, or where he is. This is upsetting to Chersheng and his younger brother. When their mother brings out a story cloth that the grandfather had made, the grandfather was able to share stories of his life in Laos. Chersheng decides to create something that will help keep memories for his grandfather of his time in America. This brought back memories of my grandmother who had Alzheimer's disease. It often tears families apart. I loved the added information in theback of the book about alzheimer's disease, the Hmong people and story cloths. I thought that it was great that this was a bilingual book. This is a great asset to my shelves.

Peaceful Reader said...

Grandfather's Story Cloth written by Linda Gerdner and Sarah Langford with illustrations by Stuart Longhridge is a very well-written tale of family bonds that hold us together no matter our cultural.

Grandfather lives with Chershong and his family in the United States. Chershong hurries home one day to share his 3rd grade art project with him only to find Grandfather out in the yard, gathering wood to build a fire not remembering the gas stove they use to cook. Chershong's frustration grows and his mother shares Grandfather's story cloth. Chershong is amazed to see the life his grandfather had in Laos all depicted in stitched pictures. He and Grandfather pour over the cloth as his grandfather tells stories from his past.

The story is very well-developed and easy for readers to understand that Grandfather is suffering from Alzheimer's disease and cannot remember where he is. Sometimes books like this tend to be so didactic they become textbook-like but this one is very a very enjoyable read. I can image classrooms creating story cloths of their own to connect with Grandfather. The illustrations, while dark, set a simple tone for the text and the end papers show traditional Hmong artwork. Highly Recommended.

Linda said...

Sometimes when you see a book, you just connect with it. When I opened the envelope containing this book, it felt as if I was touching the cloth itself. I immediately read it to my students, and they sat there enraptured by the language and the art. I am glad to see the dual languages in the story as well as the theme of Alzheimer's Disease written with compassion and strength. It is definitely a 5.

Lisa Kennedy said...

It is difficult to enjoy a book with so many sad times but I did so enjoy this book. My parents are approaching 80 and it's quite often that I notice a slip here and a slip there. My children are adults and understand some of the less attractive parts of growing older. My brother's children are three years old and their knowledge of Alzheimers is not within their realm of understanding. Such a sad story, but such a wonderful way to share knowledge of a life lived so far away. Although we have students from around the world we don't have any students with the Hmong heritage. After I read the book with a class I ask them to do a bit of family homework on their own. They interview their grandparents and then create their own Story Cloths to share with their classmates. With so many nationalities represented students learn much more than just a geography lesson. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading it to children for many years to come. 4.5 picnic baskets

Anonymous said...

This story was beautiful. There is so much that I can use from this story in my classroom. The first thing is that we study the Hmong people as a part of our curriculum. The story cloth helps to teach Chersheng about his grandfather's life in Loas. Many of the books that we read and one of the activities that we do is a quilt project and how much they tell us about people. Here is a story that can be added to our collection.
The story about Alzheimer's Disease is very sad and the impact it has on a family is very difficult. The way the illistrater's pictures show the fuzziness of the desease will add to our discussion.
The thing that I appreciated most about this story was the way the translations were written on each page. The students really enjoy learning new words. I also think that it is important to learn about different cultures.
I have enjoyed receiving and blogging about books from Shen Books. I have ordered several more to add to my classroom collection.
I give this a 5 in my picnic basket.

Ichabod Crane Middle School

Monica said...

Grandfather's Story Cloth is a very touching story. The story gives the reader information about Alzheimer's disease and how it affects not only the person with the condition, but the family who loves them. Another part of the story gives the reader a history of the Hmong people and how many of them survived the war and came to America. Lastly, the fact that this story is written in both English and Hmong brings another wonderful aspect to the story.
I would rate this book a 5 in my picnic basket.
Stoneridge Elementary School Library
Roseville, CA

Heather Hill said...

"Grandfather's Story Cloth" is told in a way in which small children are able to relate to. The story is told from the perspective of Chersheng. He is the oldest grandchild in the family, so he remembers grandfather before he started forgetting and changing. Though he is sometimes confused and hurt by the way grandfather acts, there are touching moments of clarity between grandfather and Chersheng.

For children going through Alzheimer's Disease with a loved one, this is a wonderful book to share so that they don't feel alone. I liked the ending because it did not wrap up neatly...much like real life.

I loved the side by side English and Hmong translation. It is so important for kids to see books in languages other than English so that they can appreciate and understand the world around them and their place in it.

I give this story a 5.

Heather Hill, Reading Specialist
Enterprise Elementary
Woodbridge, VA

Anonymous said...

This is a beautiful book that deals with several deep issues that I would find challenging to explain to my current Kindergarten class. Although it is well written, I feel it would be better used with children who have more experiences and do not need to build up their background knowledge in order to understand the storyline.

juli said...

Let me begin by apologizing for being so late in reviewing this book. I awaited eagerly for my book to arrive, but had to wait for just the right time to read it.

It was just about one year ago that I lost my mom to Alzheimer's after battling the disease for the past many years. I can remember all of us trying to help my now nine year old nephew understand that grandma was ill and wouldn't get better.

So recently we both sat down and read the book together. This is a beautiful story not only dealing with Alzheimer's, but also the Hmong culture. The illustrations were beautiful and I loved the dual language text.

I think this book will be a great resource for not only helping kids deal with the disease, but also learning and understanding other cultures.

Thanks for bringing this book to my attention. It is truly a touching story and for me personally, helps with the healing.

I give it a 5/5.
5th grade teacher