Happy, happy Friday! I’m honored and grateful Jason June and Loren Long stopped by to finish my sentences. We discussed Never Forget Eleanor, Alzheimer’s disease, Jason’s manuscript, Loren’s illustrations, picture books, and more. I wrote the words in purple, Jason June wrote the words in blackand Loren wrote the words in orange. Thank you, Jason June and Loren! Congratulations on your beautiful picture book!
Never Forget Eleanor tell the story of a grandmother and grandson who bond over words and storytelling, and how that relationship changes as Grandma Eleanor Alzheimer’s develops. Ultimately, this is a story helping folks realize that even if our loved ones forget us, it doesn’t make our memories with them any less valid, and we have the honor of keeping them alive in our hearts.
Loren Long’s illustrations are so evocative and full of emotion and truly make this book what it is. You can feel the heart in every single image, like physically feel it in your soul when you look at Loren’s art, and there aren’t words to describe how touched I am that we get to make this book together.
Story is the art that truly can bring us together, even when we’re apart. I really love how Elijah learns this and finds ways to connect with his grandmother through story, even when she’s gone.
Like Elijah’s Grandma Eleanor, my own father was outgoing and quick with words and wit. He had a friendly way with people that made them feel good about themselves. Dad made it a point to remember people’s names. But when my dad got into his 70’s, he began to forget things. At first it was small, like telling the same story over without realizing it. But it slowly became worse and by the time he turned 75, he didn’t recognize his grandkids or even me, his own son. It was a heart breaking time for those of us who loved him.
In Never Forget Eleanor, Jason June strikes a comforting balance of love, loss and humanity. It’s a delicate way to share a sad story that unfortunately many families are experiencing now or will experience in the future.
Never Forget Eleanor‘s illustrations are intentionally light and airy and a bit more whimsical perhaps, than my usual efforts.
Dementia is a heavy subject and I wanted my art in the book to offset that gravity in a way that compliments the gentle charm in Jason June’s text.
Picture books can be a way for a child to learn about a sad life thing in a secure and loving place.
Thank you, Jason June and Loren!
Jason June is the author of many books for kids and teens who loves words and stories and making memories we can hold in our heart. His works include the queer merperson novel and New York Times bestseller, OUT OF THE BLUE, gay rom-com JAY’S GAY AGENDA, and the Mermicorn Island chapter book series. JJ lives in Austin, TX, and you can visit him online at heyjasonjune.com.
Loren Long is one of the most iconic and beloved illustrators of our time. He has collaborated with authors ranging from Angela Johnson, Julie Fogliano, and Matt de la Peña to Barack Obama, Frank McCourt, and Madonna. Loren lives in Cincinnati with his wife, sons, and their pet Weimaraners.