Book Review: Mile High Apple Pie by Laura Langston, Lindsey Gardiner

‘My Grandma’s not the wrinkled kind; she’s the special kind instead. She wears trainers with yellow laces and she laughs very loud. She remembers lots of things like milk carts and special songs. But some days, her remembering is not so good …’As time passes, this little girl grows up and her grandma grows older. Even if at times coming to terms with Grandma’s not remembering is difficult, there are still some very special things Grandma does remember – like how to make mile-high apple pie. And when Grandma suddenly can’t remember who Margaret is for sure, Margaret reassures her: ‘I am Margaret. I am your remembering.’

It was purely coincidence that my daughter chose this book at the library at this particular time, as my own Grandmother (her Great Grandmother) is now in the early stages of dementia. My daughter has found this difficult and I think was a little frightened of her.

Mile High Apple Pie explains dementia in a simple and touching way through the eyes of Margaret. My 5-year-old child could easily identify with this little girl, and it was clear that she shared the some worries as Margaret. I found the opportunity to discuss how her own Nana would in all likelihood get worse, quite easy during this book. It was wonderful how the grandmother in the story was presented as someone who had led an interesting and fulfilling life. I think for children, old people quite often appear to have always been old and I liked being able to talk about our own Nana and how she used to be, and how she still likes a lot of the things she used to do, even if she can’t manage to do them anymore.

I also really appreciated the way Laura Langston explained how even though Grandmother couldn’t remember Margaret, she still knew she loved her, and when she saw her thought of pleasant things. While my Gran isn’t quite at this stage yet, it is likely to come and for a small child it must be confusing and frightening. I really did feel that the book might have prepared my daughter for this, as she said ‘If Nana forgets us, she will still love us’. My daughter didn’t find it upsetting, she was just interested and I think she now has a little understanding of how her Nana may be. Margaret uses a lot of visual things to help her grandmother remember, such as favourite flowers and music, and both my daughter and me probably found this useful and I have encouraged my daughter to make things for her Gran that will remind her.

The book is illustrated by Lindsey Gardiner and the pictures are quite stunning. Each double page has a bright and colourful scene with plenty of detail to look at. The characters are soft and sweet looking and appeal to young children. At the end of the book is Grandma’s very own mile-high apple pie recipe and instructions, which I thought was a really nice touch.

I really do have to credit Laura Langston for skilfully tackling a complex and emotional subject delicately and simply, in a way that young children will understand. The book is just 26 pages long with 2 or 3 sentences per page. The text isn’t huge but would be suitable for a young reader, however I think this is probably a book best shared with a child as they are bound to have a lot of questions. In this age where our own parents and grandparents live longer, it is likely that our children will at some point have to deal with old age and dementia. I highly recommend this book.

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Mile High Apple Pie by Laura Langston, Lindsey Gardiner

  1. My mother slipped into dementia during the last years of her life. She loved her great children so much and it was sad seeing her remembering go. I used to take the children to visit and as children are they were so up front and honest in their questioning – so important to talk to them and help them understand.
    A lovely post, Rhiana – thank you!


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