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A Gnarly Tree


Today was the first time we got out into our garden on Salisbury Plain, since moving in at the end of October. It was wonderful to feel the sun on our backs while we cleared away leaves to reveal the shoots that will bring the garden to life over the coming months.

Sitting with a cup of my favourite chai tea, the smell of wood smoke surrounding me, I marvelled at the willow which stands at the the garden's entrance. A lover of birdlife, I have started to put feeders up on it, and it struck me how much like the tree I created for my story Just Like You Did For Me, it has become.

This tree plays an integral part of the story, which I wrote about a year and a half ago whilst studying for my MA. It tells of the special relationship between a little girl-Elizabeth, and her grandmother, and how this changes when "Nan" develops dementia. Elizabeth is taken through a range of emotions until coming to terms, and finally finding peace with, Nan's condition.

I drew on my own memories of my relationship with my grandmother, Josie, who didn't develop dementia, but encouraged me with her wonderful imagination, and experiences i have had with people who have had the condition. it isn't all doom and gloom, there is humour, and lots of warmth in there too.

I wanted to deliver a story that a child in a similar situation could relate to, and to acknowledge the feelings of loss, confusion, grief, anger and acceptance, that occur when such a diagnosis is made.

the text and illustrations still need a lot of work, and there changes to be made, but the story remains dear to heart.

Here is my very own 'gnarly'tree; the book's cover; a sad scene and one of my roughs for the story.

have a great weekend.

jo x

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