Saturday, August 16, 2014

Oma's Quilt

Oma's Quilt
by Paulette Bourgeois
illustrated by Stephane Jorisch

Oma, (grandma, mom's mom), is getting ready to move out of her house in Maple Street that she has lived in all her life, to go and live in the Forest View Retirement Home. Oma does not like this, but she understands that  this is for the best.

Emily goes to visit Oma and finds her feeling lonely and unhappy and a bit irritable. Nothing seems to go right at the Retirement Home for Oma - food tastes funny (Oma loves to make cabbage soup and strudel), the flowers in the hallway make her sneeze, the lumpy bed in a strange place makes it hard to sleep at night. Oma misses looking out her window and waving to Mrs. Mostowsky across the street.

Emily wants to make Oma feel at home, to help her settle in. What can she do?

Well, when Emily helps her mom sort through Oma's things in the basement, she has an idea: Why not use Oma's old clothes, Opa's flannel shirts, Mom's dress for her first piano recital, and Emily's baby blanket to make a quilt! "Oh, Emily! What a clever, clever girl you are!" says mom and they get to work together.

When the quilt is finished, they visit Oma and present it to her. Not only does it keep her warm, the quilt fills Oma with warm memories.

Now, she does not feel so irritable anymore, even though she complains. Whenever she misses Maple Street, Oma wraps herself in the quilt to feel right at home.

Narrated through Emily's voice, the book is gentle and relatable. Many elders in our society are unable to live alone and manage all their daily tasks; moving to a community home seems like the only viable option. It is a tough decision for the family and it is a huge adjustment for the elders to lose their independence and to be so reliant on strangers, while paying for that service.

Of course, kids don't know all these tough emotions when they read this upbeat book. Oma does end up substituting for the in-house cook at the Retirement Home, making her lovely cabbage soup and strudel for her fellow cohabitants. Oma learns to adjust. And what my kids took away is that Emily helped Oma with the transition, and that she visits Oma often, much like she used to when Oma lived on Maple Street.

All in all, a heart-warming tale written in child-friendly tone, with delightful illustrations that are uplifting and mildly humorous.

[image source: Kids Can Press]

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