7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #765:
Featuring Anna Margrethe Kjærgaard

h1 October 17th, 2021 by jules

“At first, we can see Grandpa’s footprints in the snow, but before long, the wind blows them away. All the same, we can follow the words he’s lost in the snow.
Grandma can see them now, too.”

(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


“My grandfather’s name is Kaj, and my grandmother’s name is Gerda. I go to see them a lot.” Thus opens Betina Birkjærs Coffee, Rabbit, Snowdrop, Lost (Enchanted Lion), illustrated by Anna Margrethe Kjærgaard and translated by Sinéad Quirke Køngerskov. This Danish import, originally published in 2019 and coming to U.S. shelves in December, tells a tenderly crafted (and seamlessly translated) story about dementia as if affects an intergenerational relationship.

Kaj calls Gerda “Stump,” and he has 123 different flowers in his sunroom. Furthermore, he knows the name of each flower in Latin. He also loves coffee, his wife, and his granddaughter. Grandpa and Stump spend a lot of time together. In one instance, they do a puzzle together (one that pictures a white rabbit in the snow) and Grandpa tells Stump all about a rabbit he once had as a child.

Grandpa begins to forget words, and Kjærgaard depicts this loss literally: When Grandpa forgets the word for “rose,” Stump looks under the table where the three of them sit to see four black letters spelling “Rose” lying on the rug. As pictured below, she follows him one day, wearing a black beret he often wears, and catches the word “Coffee.” Stump collects these words in a box.

Kjærgaard also depicts Grandpa’s sunroom as filled with oversized, eye-catching flowers, infused with primarily rose, salmon, and cornflower tones. (The world-building she does here is impressive; it’s a home we want to step into to and characters we come to care about.) As Grandpa forgets his words, he forgets his flowers too — and they begin to droop. Here, Kjærgaard also uses color effectively, a cool blue taking over several spreads as Grandpa’s memory worsens.

Stump has a brilliant, and quite poignant, idea for easing Grandpa’s worries and even jogging a few memories (I will leave this for you to discover when you find a copy of this exquisite book), especially after a frightening incident in which they cannot find him in the home. She also gives him a rabbit, just like the one he had as a child and just like the one pictured on their puzzle. A closing note (“Dementia and Memory”) explains the importance of reminiscence (“a recognized professional concept for planned and systematic work with human memories”) when a loved one has dementia.

In recent years we’ve seen an increasing number of picture books about grandparents suffering dementia or Alzheimers. This is one you won’t want to miss. Here are some spreads so that you can see some of the beauty for yourself. (Click each image to see the spreads in their entirety.)


“Grandpa loves the smell of coffee, and Grandma loves crossword puzzles. …”
(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


“Autumn arrives, and as the trees lose more and more of their leaves,
Grandpa loses more and more of his words.”

(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


“I collect all of Grandpa’s lost words in a box.
It keeps me busy from morning to night.”

(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


” … ‘Why didn’t I notice this?’ Grandma whispers, mostly to herself.”
(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


” … But mostly, Grandpa doesn’t want to do anything anymore.
He still likes to smell the flowers, but it’s Grandma who takes care of them now. …”

(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


(Click cover to enlarge)


BRIGHT STAR. Text and illustrations copyright © 2021 by Yuyi Morales. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Neal Porter Books, Holiday House, New York.

* * * Jules’s Kicks * * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

1) A 16th birthday in the Danielson household.

2) A lovely outdoor dinner with friends.

3) Coffee with my sister.

4) A good, long walk with friends.

5) Crisp autumn air that actually had me shivering.

6) The joys of an iPad stylus pen (what took me so long?) for copyediting assignments that require lots of tiny marks and abundant erasing.

7) Another new song from Elbow!



What are YOUR kicks this week?

5 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #765:
Featuring Anna Margrethe Kjærgaard”

  1. What a wonderful book to be imported to the US. How beautiful that the young child is keeping Grandpa’s lost words. And the illustrations are gorgeous. I can’t for it to arrive here.
    Jules, Happy birthday to the sixteen year old! And dinner with friends!
    My kicks:
    1. I missed last week as I was on an adventure.
    2. Went to my first Halloween themed event in norther Idaho. Haunted theme vignettes and some rides.
    3. Hung out with my daughter, oldest grand, and Chuck.
    4. Creating.
    5. Participating in #inktober and #poemtober.
    6. Lunch with friends.
    7. Autumn days.
    Have a great week.

  2. Good afternoon, Imps!

    Hello, Anna Margrethe Kjærgaard! Sending comfort to those who have experienced something similar.

    Jules: Happy birthday in your household, and hello to your sister! Yay for Elbow.

    Jone: Glad you had fun on your adventure! Have fun with the October projects.

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Rest
    2) Readthrough
    3) Scheduling
    4) Spacing
    5) Cleaning
    6) Truth
    7) Full

  3. What a beautiful and lovingly told story. As someone who grew up with a grandparent in the house who also dealt with dementia in later years, this book and story hits home in the best way.

    Jules – hooray for 16! Yay for dinner and walks with friends and coffee with your sister. What a full week!

    Jone – hooray for adventures! Sounds like you had a full week with family and friends too.

    Little Willow – Rest and Truth are powerful kicks. Hope kick number 2 is for a fun project!

    My kicks this week:
    1) Roasting fresh vegetables with olive oil and lots of garlic for toasty suppers.
    2) After a particularly draining day in court, home to Daisy and dinner of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich – ultimate comfort food.
    3) Watched ParaNorman as part of my spooky season movie watch.
    4) Finished Freaks and Geeks. Really enjoyed it, what a fun series that nailed the 80’s high school experience of many.
    5) Listening to Broadway triple threat Clyde Alves’ new album Back To Us on Spotify this morning. Its a good Sunday morning listen.
    6) The trailer for Guillermo Del Toro’s new movie Nightmare Alley looks good, and also reminds me so much of Libba Bray’s Diviners series. (That series would make a great series on HBO!)
    7) Baked an apple and pear and plum crisp in the slow cooker yesterday and the house smelled amazing. Ate some heated up for breakfast today, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
    7.5) daisy had an ear infection, and she’s on antibiotics and its clearing up, and it is obvious by her behavior she feels better – she’s back to being her silly, happy self.

    Have a great week Imps!

  4. Rachel: Thanks! Sending good thoughts to you and yours for those memories, and sending hugs and healthy vibes to Daisy!

  5. Jone, so glad you got to see familiy AND have an adventure.

    Little Willow, hardest working person I know: Glad you got some rest!

    Rachel: So glad Daisy feels better. Do you know I’ve neven seen Freaks and Geeks? Must fix that one day. An apple and pear and plum crisp sounds AMAZING.

    Have a good week, you all!

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