Photo by Heather Middleton
By Jeylin White
It was an encounter with an elderly woman and her granddaughter that inspired Alexandra F. Bryan, a native of Riverdale, to write a children's book, called "Green Kitty."
The book offers suggestions and information to children, who are dealing with grandparents suffering from dementia, or Alzheimer's disease.
"Most of everyone on my side of the family suffered from this disease," said Bryan.
She added that her book is told through animals, and the stories are based on her personal experiences in Riverdale, Buena Vista, and other small towns in Georgia.
"[The book] includes [personal] family stories from the Great Depression and earlier times in rural Georgia," Bryan said, "The book revolves around a grandchild visiting a grandmother in an assisted living facility."
The inspiration for the book, said Bryan, came when she was working as a registered nurse at an assisted living facility, for the elderly, in Decatur, Ga. She said she witnessed one of the residents' 10-year-old granddaughter, who came to visit her grandmother that day, "rudely" shout, "Grandma, you have already said that three times!"
Bryan went on to explain that the elderly woman suffered from dementia, and had repeated herself several times. She added that she witnessed the "poor little lady's" face drop, and she could see how hurt she was from her granddaughter's words.
From that day, said Bryan, she knew she needed to do something so children would be able to understand the proper response to a grandparent suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's disease.
Bryan began jotting down ideas for a children's book and contacted Megan Pits, who Bryan said is a distant relative, and an illustrator.
Pitts said she was honored that Bryan asked her to do the artwork for the book. "I couldn't miss that chance to be published in a book." said Pitts. "I knew it would help my [art] portfolio."
Bryan said she knew she wanted the book to include "laugh-out-loud" animal stories, and she wanted it to cater to a specific audience. "It is aimed at the 8- [to] 12-year-old market," she said, "[The book] appeals to both boys and girls."
Bryan said it took some time for her to come up with the plot and illustrations for the book, but once the book was complete, she said all her hard work paid off. Pitts agreed, she said when it came to the artwork for the book, Bryan was easy to work with, and she knew exactly what she wanted.
"It took me six months to complete this book," Bryan said, "and I'm so pleased with the end result. Children have said it [the book] was really cool."
Pitts said that, generally, a topic like [dementia or Alzheimer's] is not a [popular] topic for children. However; she said she believes this book is still appealing to youngsters. "I think kids need to know about this stuff," she said. "As you do get older, you have a lot more health issues."
Bryan said the book is available at the Apple iBookstore, for use with iPad and iPod touch, as well as in paperback.
Because she is self-published, said Bryan, she has to go the extra mile to get the word out about her book. She added that she's hoping she will be able to visit several libraries around Clayton County, and other counties in Georgia, to promote her book, as well as spread the word to youngsters about dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
For now, Bryan said, people can purchase, and learn more about her book, by visiting her web site at, www.greenkittybook.com.