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Picturebooks Titles From Singapore and China That Portray Grandmothers Who Are Ill


For my Monday reading this week, I shared international picturebook titles that portray grandfathers who are ill. I thought I better follow it through with grandmothers who are also sick – just so we also provide some kind of balance. This is still in keeping with our current reading theme that highlights different forms of illnesses in literature.

fullsizerender-70Where’s Grandma?

Written by: Edmund Lim Illustrated by: Tan Zi Xi
Published by: Epigram Books, 2012. First Published in 2005. ISBN13: 9789810720780 Literary Award: Hedwig Anuar Children’s Book Award (2013)
Provided a copy of the book by publisher. Book photos taken by me. 

This picturebook won during the year when I was part of the Hedwig Anuar Children’s Book Award panel of judges. It portrays how life can indeed be difficult for the entire family – especially as one cares for an elderly, in this case, a Grandmother, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s.


It also shows how on occasion, our loved one who is suffering from an illness may start doing things that hurt us. Hence, it is always important to see beyond the illness and to see the human who is suffering amidst the memory loss and the lapses in attention.


While quite text-heavy, I find that the images are quite lovely (I would have loved more of them though) – and very relevant especially in the Asian culture where extended family members usually stay in one’s home rather than in a residential home for the elderly.

Grandma Lives In A Perfume Villagefullsizerender-51

Written by: Fang Suzhen Illustrated by: Sonja Danowski Translated by: Huang Xiumin
Published by: North South 2014. First Published in China. ISBN: 0735842167 (ISBN13: 9780735842168) Literary Award: Batchelder Honor (2016)
Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me. 

I have always been in love with Sonja Danowski’s art ever since I discovered her illustrations in Forever FlowersIn this picturebook, I felt that she has reached even newer heights as it portrays a young boy named Xiao Le who visits his grandmother in a faraway village.


Not soon after, Grandmother started getting sick and was not able to rise out of bed any longer, requiring full time care. Xiao Le’s fear was sensitively captured as well as Grandmother’s quiet strength despite the illness:


I feel that books like these are truly precious as they provide spaces for discussion among young children who may be experiencing similar situations. And while there is sorrow in this book, there is also much joy and celebration in being present in the here and now.


Definitely a book you shouldn’t miss in its comforting portrayal of love and letting go.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

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