Frances H. Kakugawa, a Hawai‘i Island native, began writing poetry a half-century ago, then stopped for some years to work for the public school system. But when she became the primary caregiver for her mother, she found that writing poetry helped ease her stress.

Her multiple award-winning 2007 children’s book, Wordsworth Dances the Waltz, is dedicated to her mother, who was afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease. It is about families living with elders impacted by dementia. In this book, children are introduced to the concept that as grandparents age, they may behave differently and sometimes forget things.

The book illustrates aspects of dementia and how the disease affects the entire family through Wordsworth, a Hawaiian mouse, who remembers a time when he and Grandma danced around the room. But now, Wordsworth must walk softly as not to disturb her.

Because Wordsworth loves poetry, he finds comfort in writing verses that express his confusion over his grandma’s changing behaviors, and by recalling memories of more vibrant days. His poems also help his family understand that Grandma is still his loving grandparent and an important part of the family.

If you are looking for an excellent tool to ease fears and explain changes in an elder loved one’s behavior, this book may be helpful.

The book is illustrated by Melissa DeSica and available through Amazon. Call your nearest bookstore to purchase a copy locally. For children 9 and older.