Book Review: Ellie's Butterflies, A Loving Story about Understanding Dementia
This book was written by a friend and I love that she took a topic hardly discussed and turned it into a conversation-starter for children!
About the Author
Alecia grew up in sunny Scottsdale, AZ. After high school, Alecia moved to MN where she now lives with her 3 children, husband, and gentle giant Goldendoodle, Tucker. Alecia discovered her passion for children early on in college and spent the next 12 years as a middle school science teacher.
What Inspired You to Become an Author?
Books have always held a special place in Alecia’s heart. As a young girl, she spent many hours at the library with her grandma filling her book bag to the brim, excited for the adventures that awaited her with each new book. Her inspiration for “Ellie’s Butterflies” came from a wish to help others and create good out of a very sad situation facing her family.
Why This Book?
In 2013, Alecia’s father was diagnosed with frontotemporal degeneration (a type of dementia commonly referred to as FTD). Without a treatment or cure and facing the inevitable decline of her father, the desire to ‘do something’ became urgent. However, knowing exactly what to do was the difficult part. Immediately, Alecia began searching for books to use as conversation starters with her own children about FTD, and was discouraged to find that literature pertaining to this specific disease was very difficult to find. One of the most important things Alecia’s father taught her was not to be afraid of difficult things. And so, with this message in mind, she decided to use her family’s experience, her background as an educator, and her passion for books and children to write a story that would support other families in their journey. In this endeavor, Alecia has found hope. Hope for more education. Hope for further research. Hope for more support for caregivers. Hope for a future cure.
What Have You Enjoyed Most About Writing and/or Publishing?
Writing this book was very cathartic for me. Being able to share my family’s story with dementia was a way to process what was/is happening and open up and share that with others that are passionate about the mission. Writing this book with the mission to donate money to the Association for Frontotemporal Dementia (AFTD) and provide support for other FTD families was a way for me to take action against this devastating disease.
What is Something That Has Surprised You During Your Book Publishing Journey?
Can I say “everything?” I had a beginning (a story), and an end goal (creating a book that helped others and made money for THE AFTD), but had no idea how to get from point A to B. The process was long, emotional, sometimes overwhelming, and I often felt like a “duck out of water.” It was also incredibly humbling to see how many people jumped on board to help me accomplish my mission. One of my main goals was to provide support for other families, but I did not anticipate the connections that would be made with those families along the way. Definitely an unexpected and wonderful surprise!
What Advice Would You Give to Aspiring Authors?
Determine your “WHY” right away and when decisions need to be made about your story or the creation of the book, fall back on that purpose and let it guide you. I found a wonderful independent publisher that was excited about my mission and let them guide me on everything publishing related. I was not the authority on word count, or book size, or color schemes, but I was the authority on MY story and made all decisions with my mission and goals in mind.
Book Description: Loving someone with dementia can be scary and confusing! Ellie’s Butterflies is a heartwarming story about a young girl who attempts to navigate the complicated emotions that accompany loving someone with dementia.
(Katie) Cover Review: Super cute character. I Immediately understood the feeling of nervousness and/or anxiety with Ellie.
(Kids) Cover Review:
(7-yr-old): I really like Ellie.
(5-yr-old): I like the butterflies!
(3-yr-old): I like Ellie too!
(Katie) Story Review: I really appreciate throughout the book that Alecia addresses Ellie's feelings head-on and not subtly. I feel Ellie acknowledging her feelings, even just to herself, is important for kids to see. To show that their feelings are valid and that they aren't alone in feeling that way, especially in an unknown or confusing situation. I also enjoyed the education throughout about dementia and the differences you may see in someone that is experiencing dementia. Even more importantly, I love the message that even though their brain isn't working like it used to, their heart is still the same. Such an endearing and positive message for little ones.
(Kids) Story Review:
(7-yr-old): I have felt like Ellie before, too. When I went on a rollercoaster and I was nervous. I learned what dementia is and that is means that your brain doesn't work the same way. I didn't know about that before. I feel sad that Ellie's Grandpa was like that. I liked the part of the book when Ellie was in bed thinking about what it was going to be like to see her Grandpa. I really like the pictures.
(5-yr-old): I really liked when they played the board game together.
(Katie) Overall: Alecia took a tough topic with lots of emotions and created a beautiful and heartfelt story through the eye's of a child. While there isn't a cure for dementia, she illustrates beautifully how we can understand and support people with dementia better and that their heart doesn't change. My Grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease and it was a really confusing time and sad to see the changes and I wish I would have had a book like this one to help me understand what was going on. The illustrations are bright, fun, and inviting and I love how the butterflies finally go away as Ellie understands her Grandpa better. Even though the topic was dementia, I also enjoyed the overall discussion of having butterflies, which all of my kids could relate.
Interested in adding Ellie's Butterflies to your library? Book details and where you can find it are listed below!
Title: Ellie's Butterflies: A Loving Story about Dementia
Author: Alecia Smith
Details: Hardcover picture book
Suitable for ages: Ages 4 - 10
Currently available at: Amazon