As a young woman, Miss Irwin was a kindergarten teacher who loved introducing the world of discovery to her students. As a grandmother, she often reflects on her wonderful days exploring with her students. When her grandson asks her about a mysterious box on the shelf, she gets lost in memory and her mind transports her back in time to when she was Miss Irwin. At first her grandson is confused, but remembers his grandmother's forgetfulness and plays along as the student who made the bird's nest inside the white box.
Allen Say's breathtaking artwork and emotionally powerful and thoughtful text gently weave a touching story about memory and family. Together, the grandmother and grandson rejoice in the meaning and beauty of memory before all is lost.
Miss Irwin helps readers of all ages better understand and interact with loved ones who are experiencing memory loss.
The teachers I loved and admired are figures of light in my memory. Miss Irwin is especially luminous. She was my daughter's kindergarten teacher. The children's words and drawings and dancing made her blush with excitement. And by trying to keep her blushing, the children learned the astonishment of discovering.
I hope she will forgive me for casting her as a forgetful grandmother in this story -- it's an attempt to capture her light before all is forgotten. -- Allen Say
Alzheimer's changes the lives of everyone it touches. You are not alone.
When a friend or family member has Alzheimer's disease, you may feel upset, confused or scared. Some people with early-stage Alzheimer's may forget words or not remember your name from time to time. But, when you spend time with people with late-stage Alzheimer's, it is easy to see that something serious is going on. People with Alzheimer's disease are not acting like this because they don't care about you. Changes deep inside their brains are destroying the centers that control remembering, thinking, and feeling. Learning about Alzheimer's disease can help you understand what to expect and how to connect with the person you care about. -- Alzheimer’s Association
* "Not only a lyrical look at teaching and life lessons, this is an essential book for SEL shelves, as well as for collections on Asian-American family life, and dementia." -- School Library Journal, starred review
"Say's muted palette features pastel hues and layered brush strokes that soften and lend a dreamlike quality to the illustrations... A sensitively portrayed snapshot of an all-too-common family experience." -- Kirkus Reviews
"Say's latest sparely told but emotionally intense gem... Readers who have elder relatives of their own with failing memories may draw comfort from this intimate episode." -- Booklist
"Say illustrates his gentle, loving story with softly sun-dappled, colorful oil paintings that range from hazy to clear, depending on the clarity of Grandma’s mind and memory." -- The Horn Book
Praise for Allen Say:
*"With luminous watercolors and economical text... aficionados of Say's tranquil work will find both the message and the delivery deeply satisfying." -- Publishers Weekly, starred review
*"Understated and pristine, Tree of Cranes is the achievement of a master in his prime, one of the best picture books of this or any other year." -- The Horn Book, starred review
"Expert angles and a touching sense of stillness make this piece visually masterful even while conceptually disquieting." -- Kirkus Reviews