This is a very special book. A tender story about the connection between a grandchild and grandparents, and a story about old age and loss in the form of words and memories. Check out Coffee Rabbit Snowdrop Lost by Betina Birkjær, illustrated by Anna Margrethe Kjærgaard, 2021.
The story is told from the narration of the young grandchild. The child loves their grandfather and grandmother dearly, visiting them often. They share about their grandpa’s massive collection of plants and his vast knowledge of their Latin names. There are lots of fond stories about doing a puzzle, nicknames, coffee, old stories, and crossword puzzles. It is a special bond these three have.
But gradually, the grandchild begins to notice the grandpa is losing his words. He’s also losing interest in things and seeming to not remember big and little details. The grandma seems to not notice, but the grandchild tries to collect the words and bridge the gap between the three of them and the slowly lost connections.
One night, the grandpa wanders out in the snow with slippers and no coat. The grandchild and grandma go off to search for him, noticing more his many dying plants and how many words he seems to have lost. It is a night of realization and sadness, but it helps the grandma and grandchild connect even more over this new and profound loss. They join together to help grandpa hold some memories and find comfort in their days.
What an incredibly special story. While it is not one I can imagine wanting to read over and over, it also kind of is. It is beautiful. The illustrations are positively stunning in their style and color palette. I am drawn in so deeply by all the florals, background details, and the tender expressions the three characters have.
And I do love the story. It is a hard story, and sadly so often true. I love how it is put into words, wonderfully translated from the Danish by Sinéad Quirke Køngerskov. It is just an achingly beautiful book, in art and storytelling.
It also includes a helpful note in the back about dementia and memory by Ove Dahl, a historian and head of a Danish center for this subject.
I hope you don’t need this book, but I hope you will enjoy its tender story. The aging of our loved ones is a hard path to walk, but this story celebrates walking it together and with dignity and love.