"Alzheimer’s disease can have a big impact on every member of the family, including children. Each child will react differently to someone who has Alzheimer’s. The young people in your life might have questions about what is happening. It’s important for you to answer these questions openly and honestly. It will also help to share with them the changes the disease might bring, now and in the future." - Parent's Guide from the Alzheimer's Association.Wordsworth Dances the Waltz is a book aimed at helping children and families understand Alzheimer’s and aging grandparents. The work was named a Mom’s Choice Awards® Silver Recipient in the category “Crossing Generations.”
Written by author and educator Frances H. Kakugawa and illustrated by Melissa DeSica,the book uses the character of Wordsworth, the Hawaiian mouse who loves poetry, to introduce children to the concept that as grandparents age, they may become different, and even forget important things.
Kakugawa has been featured on KHON2 newscasts with Kirk Matthews and in The Honolulu Advertiser for her work helping children and adults to understand Alzheimer’s patients and teaching them to deal with the stresses of having a family member afflicted with the disease through journaling and creative writing. Wordsworth Dances the Waltz has also been praised by the Midwest Book Review as a “superbly written picturebook story” that “should be a part of every elementary school and community library picturebook collection for young children.”Wordsworth Dances the Waltz is dedicated to author Frances H. Kakugawa’s late mother, Matsue, who was afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease. Kakugawa was her primary caregiver for five years; during that time she found that poetry and journaling helped to ease the rigorous burden of caregiving. Born and raised in Kapoho on the Big Island of Hawai‘i, Kakugawa is a retired O‘ahu and Big Island public school teacher. She has also taught in classrooms in Michigan and Micronesia and served as a teacher trainer at the University of Hawai‘i.
Illustrator Melissa DeSica was raised in Kailua, O‘ahu, and received several awards for her artwork. DeSica wrote and illustrated her own children’s book, Gecko and Mosquito. Sadly, she lost her battle with leukemia a short month before the Mom’s Choice Awards winners were announced.
Wordsworth Dances the Waltz is the second book featuring the literary mouse. The first title, Wordsworth the Poet, was the recipient of the 2004 Ka Palapala Book Award for Excellence in Children’s Books from the Hawai’i Book Publishers’ Association. In addition to the Wordsworth titles and Mosaic Moon, a resource for caregivers with inspirational poetry reflecting the trials and small triumphs of the family caregiver, as well as a how-to guide to creating poetry support groups, Kakugawa has written an entertaining, insightful memoir of classroom life: Teacher, You Look Like A Horse!