book cover My Gran's Different
by Sue Lawson, Illustrated by Caroline Magerl

Picture book | 28 pp | Years Years 24

Getting Started
Activities
Assessment

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GETTING STARTED

[ Learning for life | Overview | Author profile | Illustrator profile | Useful websites | Focus questions]

Learning for life

I am part of a family that has a past, present and future.
We can show people that we care for them in lots of different ways.
Our relationships change as we change.
It is as important to give love as to receive it.
My memory shows what I have learned.
My brain controls my body and my thoughts and feelings by sending messages to its different parts.
My brain needs certain things to keep it growing and healthy.
My brain is continually growing and changing.

Overview

My Gran's Different is a sensitive story about the relationship between a young boy and his grandmother who has Alzheimer's disease. Charlie reflects on the quirks of his friends' grandmothers, always acknowledging that his gran is different, although it is not until the end of the story that we discover how she is different. It is a story of love, caring and compassion, and provides many opportunities to reflect on what is important to us.

Although at first My Gran's Different appears to be a picture book for younger readers, it can also provide a platform for older readers to explore relationships, stereotypes, aging and how they can take responsibility for the health of own their own brain.

In 2004 My Gran's Different was a Notable Book in the Children's Book Council of Australia awards, and it is one of only seven Australian books selected by the prestigious International Board on Books for Young People for the 'White Ravens' catalogue.

Author profile

As well as being a writer, Sue Lawson has had lots of other jobs, including being a teacher. She writes children's books because she loves children. The idea for My Gran's Different came from listening to a radio interview and a comment a child made after it.

She lives with her family in western Victoria and often holds writing workshops to teach children to write well.

Illustrator profile

Although Caroline Magerl was born in Germany, she has spent much of her life in Australia. Besides drawing, yachting is another one of her passions. She has won a number of awards for her illustrations, notably the Crichton Award for her illustrations for Libby Hathorn's book Grandma's Shoes.

Ma Magerl lives with her family in Queensland.

Useful websites

Focus questions

Before you read

This is Charlie's story, but it might also be yours one day. Think about these questions to help you focus your thoughts.

  • What is a grandmother?
  • Where does she fit in the family tree?
  • What are grandmothers like?
  • How might Charlie's gran be different
  • Are there any clues in the picture on the cover or in the back cover blurb to help you?
  • What do you expect this book to be about?

As you read

  • Are all the grandmothers in the story the same?
  • What are some of their differences? Their similarities?
  • Is there one common characteristic that they all share?
  • Why does Charlie think his grandmother is different?
  • Why does he keep telling us that she is?
  • How is she different?
  • What does Charlie mean when he says, 'She can't remember who she is'?
  • Do you think Charlie knows what is wrong with his grandmother?
  • Does it bother him that his grandmother is not like the other grandmothers?
  • What does he mean when he says, 'But that's all right because I remember who she is'?
  • Why does Charlie think that it is more important for him to remember who his grandmother is, rather than his grandmother remembering him?
  • How would you respond if this were your grandmother?
  • Why has Caroline Magerl painted an empty chair before we actually meet Charlie's grandmother?
  • How do the illustrations of the flowers symbolise Charlie's grandmother's life?
  • How does the repetition of the phrase 'But my gran's different' prepare the reader for the end of the story?
  • How does the structure of the writing highlight the contrast between Charlie's relationship with his grandmother and those of his friends?
  • How do the style and colours of the illustrations contribute to the story?
  • Has Charlie's grandmother stopped loving him?


© Curriculum Corporation 2006