Mentee NameTitle of ManuscriptMentor NameAge CategoryGenre(s)Total word count (approx.)
Jo DeardenGrandad’s Missing MemoryDonna DavidPBcontemporary500

‘Grandad’s Missing Memory’ is a 500 word rhyming story that shows, in an age-appropriate way, how the whole family can help a loved one live well with dementia.

When Grandad starts acting differently, his grandson tries to find his ‘lost’ memory for him. At first the little boy thinks putting up posters and sending out search parties might help but, as the story unfolds, he discovers other things he can do that will have a positive impact on Grandad’s life.

Here in the UK, a person is diagnosed with dementia every three minutes. Over 850,000 people are currently living with dementia in the UK alone, and that figure is expected to rise to over 1.6 million by 2040 (source: Alzheimer’s Society). As dementia continues to touch more and more children’s lives, I decided to write something that would help them, and their families, cope with this potentially worrying situation. (I remember how confused I felt when my own grandma was diagnosed with the condition.) 
My aim was to create a story that was simple without being simplistic, and hopeful without offering false hope.
I really like the way Kes Gray uses humour and rhyme in his book ‘Mum and Dad Glue’. I hope that ‘Grandad’s Missing Memory’ will help a child’s understanding of dementia, in the same way that ‘Mum and Dad Glue’ helps a child’s understanding of separation and divorce.

I’m a working class writer based in the North of England. My picture book texts have been shortlisted for various prizes including The Writing Magazine Picture Book Prize, The Stratford-Salariya Picture Book Prize and the Greenhouse Funny Prize. Other stories – some rhyme, some prose – available on request.

Thanks for taking the time to read the first half of my story!

Sp 1
There’s something wrong with Grandad
He doesn’t seem the same
Something’s wrong with Grandad
I wonder what’s to blame…

Sp 2
He used to laugh and tell me jokes
but now he’s really silly
He went to bed in all his clothes
It wasn’t even chilly!

And then he called me Dad’s name
and that was kind of weird
’Cos I am 
small 
and dad is 
BIG 
and has a bushy beard

Sp 3
And then I heard some talking
I think I know what’s wrong
They said he’s lost his memory!
It can’t have been gone long…

Sp 4
I felt so sad, I made a plan
to help with all of that.
I’ll go round putting posters up, 
like when we lost our cat

[illo note: hand-drawn ‘missing’ poster featuring a brain] 

Sp 5
And then I think a gang of us
should go out when it’s dark
in case he left it at the beach
or even in the park

Sp 6
But then my mum sat down with me
She said it’s not the same
Grandad’s lost his memory
but he’s still got his brain

And Grandad’s brain is getting full
and here’s the strangest bit
It’s so ram-jammed with all his life
that new stuff just won’t fit

Sp 7
I said, “Is there is potion
or a spell or magic pill
or any kind of medicine
to stop him being ill?”

Dad scrunched his mouth and blinked his eyes
and slowly shook his head
But then he told me lots of things
that we can do instead…