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The Sunsets of Miss Olivia Wiggins

"Miss Olivia may be remembering happy times when her daughter Angel, and great-grandson, Troy, come to visit her at the nursing home. They bring lilacs from her home, which may trigger memories of Sunday afternoons spent with the young man she would marry. When Troy sees visitors with a small baby, Miss Olivia remembers Angel's birth. Full-page watercolor paintings are sympathetic to the plight of this older woman. Golden light shines like twilight throughout this story of several generations connected together and it all happens without Miss Olivia ever speaking."

--Wendy Pollcok-Gilson, Children's Literature

"When her daughter, Angel, and her great-grandson Troy come to visit her in a nursing home, Miss Olivia Wiggins doesn't appear to notice their presence: 'She just [sits] there, staring straight ahead, at nothing and at everything.' But small things they say and do bring back memories for her. As Troy hums a little tune by her chair, she remembers holding her babies and singing to them, and the smell of the lilacs he has brought her reminds her of a special, long-ago spring day with the man she would marry. Although Troy finds it somewhat puzzling that his great-grandmother doesn't seem the same, he can tell that his visits bring her joy. Realistic watercolors flow gently between present and past in this tender depiction of a life well lived, which speaks to the value of maintaining loving relationships, even when they are altered by Alzheimer's disease."

--Susan Dove Lempke, Booklist

"When her daughter and great-grandson visit Miss Olivia Wiggins in a nursing home, their words and actions cause the woman to remember significant moments in her life. A repeated phrase, 'She didn't move, she didn't even blink, but slowly, quietly she began to think...' signals the change from the present to the past. These remembrances, which occur on every other page, are printed in italics. Through this story, readers will be reassured that older people can have a full inner life and will understand the importance of visiting them. With the growing number of elderly requiring full-time care, this book could fulfill a need... The sun-dappled watercolor illustrations work with the text to present a sanitized, loving tribute to one woman's life. They do try to create a child-oriented connection between the past and the present by including a toy horse in many of the scenes...”

--School Library Journal


Reviews from readers posted on Amazon.com:

“When young Troy and his Grandma Angel visit Momma Olivia in the nursing home we get a brief glimpse into the life of an Alzheimers patient. Any family coping with Alzheimers will immediately recognize the tender care, the love, and the hope that lies within the lyrical language of this most sensitive story. The poetic prose and exquisite art reveal a rich and robust life now trapped within. A sensitive telling of a difficult issue. Kudos to Mr. Laminack and Ms. Bergum.”

“Miss Olivia just sits with her hands folded in her lap and stares, saying nothing. Her daughter Angel and great-grandson Troy visit, and she still sits as they talk to her. She still says nothing, but she thinks of beautiful memories from her past, beautiful as the sunset the nurse had pointed out that evening. Beautifully illustrated by Constance R. Bengum... It is such a beautiful book, and a wonderful gentle and loving story that can help young and old cherish their loved ones who have Alzheimer's.”

--Brenda Parris Sibley

“Lester Laminack has done it. He has captured what many others attempt to do. He has reached into the heart of a person who is affected by someone with Alzheimers and put their thoughts into words. My grandfather passed away from Alzheimers. I never thought he knew me. However, after reading Lester's book, I realized he was still ‘all there’. If you have a child who is struggling with understanding this illness, this is the book to get. I agree that this book should be recommended to anyone who is going through the heartache of Alzheimers.”

“Lester Laminack has given all readers who have had their life touched by Alzheimer's new hope. My grandmother passed away with Alzheimer's, and I was devastated when I felt she did not know me. However, this book gives you hope that somewhere deep inside the people it affects, this horrible disease cannot fully erase those memories. It should be recommended reading to not just children whose lives have been affected by this disease, but adults as well. Thanks Mr. Laminack for giving me a new hope to hold on to!”

“Having recently had a true experience of life with a mother lost for years to the Alzheimer’s disease, I find this book a true description of what we went through. My grandchildren can relate to the story. I think it should be recommended by the elderly services, doctors and Alzheimer’s foundation.”