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Really and Truly by E. Rivard

Rivard, Émilie.  Really and Truly. Illus. Anne-Claire Delisle. Trans. Sarah Quinn. Toronto:  Owlkids Books Inc., 2011.  Print.

Prolific Quebec author Émilie Rivard departs from her usual novel format in the picture book, Really and Truly.

Really and Truly describes the loving relationship between Charlie and his grandfather, a master storyteller.  Grandpa’s stories are fabulous and Charlie becomes immersed in the tales of pirates, gnomes and witches.  Grandpa has an imaginative explanation for everything and Charlie is mesmerized.  Every story ends with the line, “Really and truly, Charlie.”  Time passes, Charlie gets older and Grandpa changes as a disease “eats up his memory and his words”.  Visit after visit Grandpa becomes less responsive, leaving Charlie and his family heartbroken.  During one visit, Charlie remembers a story his Grandpa used to tell and decides to tell it back to Grandpa.  For the first time in a long time, he catches his Grandpa’s attention.  At each visit, Charlie tells another story eventually eliciting a small smile from Grandpa.

This is an endearing story about family relationships and the difficulties of dealing with dementia.  Clever illustrations complement the straightforward text.  Grandpa’s and Charlie’s stories are illustrated in black and white on top of the coloured illustrations of reality.   This would be a good read aloud for primary-junior students, providing a vehicle for discussions about family stories, grandparents, and Alzheimer’s disease.  

Recommended: 3 out of 4 stars
Reviewer: Brenda Roberts

Brenda Roberts is the teacher-librarian at Edenbrook Hill Public School in Brampton, Ontario and is working on her M.Ed. in teacher-librarianship from the University of Alberta.  When not devouring books, she enjoys travel, quilting, music and gardening.