Jeannie Ann’s Grandma Has Breast Cancer
by Diane Davies
Beaver’s Pond Press

"Cancer can make our feelings hurt, way down deep inside."

Children are terrified by the thought of losing parents and grandparents, and cancer is a particularly frightening and mysterious illness for any age group to confront. Author Davies uses her talents as a grandmother, educator, breast cancer survivor, and patient advocate in this concept picture book that speaks frankly about the fears, tough questions, and emotional responses that both children and adults have when confronting this medical challenge.

Though written in the voice of freckled, curly-headed Jeannie Ann—an adorable child whose grandmother is diagnosed with breast cancer—the narrative seems designed to be read to children and not necessarily by them. The vocabulary and narrative sometimes veer from the basic language of picture books into more complex grammar and sentence structure for older readers. Since the etiology, diagnosis, and emotional impact of cancer on families is also intricate, the complexity of the narrative is understandable and allows the adult reader to initiate conversations and to guide the child through the steps of understanding breast cancer and its treatment.

The colorful and whimsical illustrations by Nobens will delight adults and children of all ages. The diverse, mixed-race family portrayed in the story is also refreshing and lends extra authenticity and hope to families everywhere. The suggestions for engaging a child in conversation about cancer and the brief bibliography of resources in the book are encouraging and helpful. Because “most cancer causes emotional pain for the person who has it and also for their family and friends,” this book is a vibrant remedy for families coming to grips with a cancer diagnosis.

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