My Singing Nana by Pat Mora
Pat signed copies of the book for librarians at ALA annual 2019.

Pat signed copies of the book for librarians at ALA annual 2019.

While at ALA, Pat spoke with KidLit TV’s Rocco Staino. Watch their conversation here.

My Singing Nana
Magination Press, illustrated by Alyssa Bermudez
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Billy is close with his Nana. But Nana is starting to forget things and Billy is worried. When Billy’s sister is too sick to sing in their family summer show, Billy and Nana work together to come up with an act that saves the performance! Billy learns that no matter what happens, he and Nana are “always amigos!”

This story celebrates the ideals of family, heritage, and happy memories, showing kids that no matter how their loved one might change they always have ways to maintain their special connection.

Highlighted Reviews
"Mora pens a story about a boy concerned about Nana’s memory loss. After dinner, Billy, his two young siblings, mom, dad, and grandmother make the final preparations on their patio for their annual neighborhood show, which will be staged the following evening. “Tomorrow will be our best show ever, right Nana?” asks Billy. But Nana, uncertain, says: “Remind me Billy, what are we doing this year?” After Billy and his siblings, Becky and Chris, remind Nana, they rehearse. Later, Nana tells him, “Billy, sometimes your Nana forgets things, but we help each other, don’t we?” That evening, Billy confides in his mom that he’s worried about Nana. The next morning, Becky, the singer in the show, wakes with a sore throat and cough, and Billy worries—but all goes well when Nana joins Billy for the grand finale. Set against a desertlike landscape, Bermudez’s colorful, vibrant scenes offer a window and a mirror to culture and custom, as when the brown-skinned Latinx family bow heads and hold hands around the table; cherry empanadas rest on decorated plates. After dinner, guests arrive, and the show commences. In Billy’s narration, simple Spanish phrases appear unapologetically and without translation. An author’s note delves into her grandparents’ experience with dementia and offers useful tips in talking to young children about Alzheimer’s. A tender tribute to families who have loved ones suffering from dementia."—Kirkus Reviews

"Billy adores his Nana, who wears a belted vest in Bermudez’s colorful art. He loves baking cherry empanadas alongside her, listening to her sing, and putting on shows together for their family and friends. As they prepare for their “best show ever,” Billy is worried when his Nana asks him to remind her of their plans. Later, he brings his concern to his mother, who reassures him that though Nana sometimes forgets things, they can still do all of their favorite activities together. When his sister wakes up with a cough the morning of the program, Billy is momentarily discouraged before he gets an idea: “I know who the best singer is,” writes Mora. He summons his Nana, and together they sing, helping one another recall their favorite songs in both Spanish and English. Back matter offers an empanada recipe and insights into discussing Alzheimer’s with children. A winning story that also serves as a useful family resource."—Publishers Weekly

Read Pat’s Author Note
Families savor happy memories. A number of the women in my family were wonderful cooks, and I enjoyed having my three children help me bake. Soon, my granddaughter will be my helper. Baking memories and family gatherings are happy memories for us. All families, of course, confront challenging realities too including aging.

How do children respond to grandparents or other seniors who may begin to experience memory loss, and where do children have opportunities to share and discuss their confusion, worries, and feelings?

In their eighties, both of my parents suffered from dementia. Alzheimer’s, named for the German physician, Dr. Alois Alzheimer, who first identified the brain disorder that now bears his name, is the most common form of dementia. Not a normal part of aging, Alzheimer’s is regularly in the news, since an estimated 5.8 million Americans are confronting this disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

I was encouraged to write this book by my sister, Stella Henry, who cared for our parents at the end of their lives. For over thirty years, as a nurse, administrator, and co-owner of a nursing home, she helped thousands of families deal with challenging health issues.

Caring adults know that children are capable of compassion and thoughtfulness. A few reminders:

  • Be truthful with children. Share age-appropriate information.
  • Encourage children to share their worries with parents and trusted family members or teachers. Children’s questions provide clues about appropriate issues to address with a child and her or his level of understanding.
  • Remind children to be polite and patient with their family member or friend.
  • Model loving, thoughtful behavior that strengthens family bonds.

I often smile at many happy memories of my parents and think of my teasing dad and my mom’s fabulous laugh.