Affective memory has the power to contribute in many ways to our experiences throughout life, even after many years. Francine Cruz is an example of this construction of positive experiences since childhood: when she was a child, she listened with enthusiasm to the stories told by her grandfather. Growing up, she faced the loss of him, but today she honors him through her career as a writer and the book entitled “Grandpa went away, but he left a lot of history”.
This children’s work portrays a child’s view of grief. Despite the sadness, the protagonist remembers her grandfather’s outstanding personality and the precious memories they shared together. When fondly remembering, she perceives the contrasts between generations: while her grandfather preferred to travel by train, the current world opts for planes; society is always in a hurry, but your loved one was always calm and calm.
The character also evokes the narratives eternalized by her grandfather, who valued Brazilian folklore by telling legends such as Mula Sem Cabeça, Saci and Pedro Malasartes. This connection with the country’s culture is represented in the illustrations created by Débora Bacchi.
So that “Grandpa went away, but left a lot of history” to reach as many people as possible, the content was designed in an inclusive way, taking into account the Brazilian Law of Inclusion. The font used in the book has a larger size, aiming to meet the needs of more than 6 million Brazilians with low vision or low vision, according to IBGE data.
In addition to being a teacher and writer, Francine Cruz is a doctoral candidate in Education, holds a Master’s degree in Education and has a degree in Physical Education and Literature, specializing in Portuguese and English. As an author, she received the Young Culture Agent Award from the Ministry of Culture, was selected in contests and public notices with her short stories and published the book “Amor, Maybe”. She is also a member of several female literary collectives, such as As Contistas, Mulherio das Letras, Ruído Rosa, Marianas and Vozes Escarlate. Now, Francine is promoting her most recent production, the children’s book entitled “Grandpa went away, but he left a lot of history!”.
How did your own personal experiences with the loss of your grandfather influence the creation of the book “Grandpa is gone, but he left a lot of history”?
Like many Brazilian children, I was raised by my maternal grandparents, and my grandfather was always a great reference for me. He was very affectionate and a great storyteller, I grew up with him telling stories and reciting his poems to me. These stories were transmitted orally, and I was very afraid of forgetting them, so when I became an adult, I asked my grandfather to write some in a notebook and others I recorded and transcribed with the help of my husband. We put these stories together in a book and, when my grandfather turned 80, we gave the book as a gift to him and his family and close friends. My grandfather passed away at the age of 85, when my daughter was only five months old, but the stories were recorded and I started to tell her, as my grandfather used to do with me. Then I realized that even though he was gone, I had left many stories, not only fictional ones, but life stories that we shared and that left a lot of nostalgia and good memories. That’s how this book was born, as a good memory and a tribute to my grandfather, who was a very special person in my life.
What is the main message you want to convey to children who are grieving a loved one?
It’s natural to feel homesick, but we can turn this longing into a feeling of gratitude and joy for the time we spent together. The loss doesn’t always have to be sad, because people are gone, but they leave memories and marks in our lives that we will keep forever in our hearts.
How did you approach the issue of grief in a way that was appropriate and sensitive for children?
Mourning is re-signified as the child realizes that the grandfather left, but left many memories: “grandfather was very smart: he engraved himself in our hearts. I remember him fondly: lap, cafuné and kiss!” When fondly remembering the moments lived with the grandfather, the longing is transformed into a good feeling, of infinite and unconditional love for those who left a legacy in our history.mourning being related to the grandfather, it is not restricted to the grandfather. Readers can adapt the story to grieving situations with other family members, explaining to the children that what happens to the grandfather in the story is equivalent to what the family goes through with the loss of a loved one.
How do Brazilian culture and folklore legends fit into the book’s story?
Right at the beginning of the book, the narrator says that his grandfather left for heaven, taking cheese and guava in his travel bag, the mixture of these two foods is traditional in Brazil. The grandfather also transmitted tales from Brazilian oral tradition to the child, such as the “compadre Folharada” and the stories of Pedro Malasartes (a traditional character in Brazilian culture). In addition, the grandfather invented stories claiming to have seen the saci pererê, the headless mule, among other causes of haunting with buried treasures, so commonly told by older generations.
How was the collaboration process with the illustrator Débora Bacchi to create the illustrations that complement the narrative?
In addition to being an illustrator, Débora Bacchi is my personal friend and has already done several works in partnership with me, she has complete freedom to create the illustrations the way she thinks best. Sometimes we debate about one detail or another, but the last word on the illustrations is hers. The story of this book, in particular, was very touching for her due to the fact that her maternal grandmother and great counselor had also recently passed away. Seeking the representation of the child, she opted for collage and the use of cheerful colors, because, despite being a book that has mourning as a theme, this process happened in a simple and affectionate way.
Why did you choose an inclusive approach to the enlarged font of the words in the book?
Accessibility is one of the premises of the public notice for Subsidized Patronage of the Cultural Foundation of Curitiba, through which the work was financed. The option for the expanded font was made with the intention of expanding and facilitating access to the cultural product book for the more than six million Brazilians, who according to the IBGE (2010) have low vision or low vision, thus respecting Art. 42 of the Brazilian Inclusion Law – LBI (Law No. 13,146/2015) which states that: “Persons with disabilities have the right to culture, sport, tourism and leisure on an equal basis with other people, being guaranteed access: I – to cultural assets in an accessible format”. In addition, this font also collaborates with the literacy process of children who are learning to read.
What is the role of grandparents in children’s lives and how can they be remembered and honored even after they are gone?
Grandparents play a very important role in children’s lives, as they are part of the family and are usually the ones who help parents in the care and attention to the child, being a reference figure, of emotional stability and security for them. In addition, intergenerational relationships bring numerous benefits to all involved, such as the exchange of experiences, respect for diversity and the development of empathy. Grandparents can be remembered and honored in many ways, especially in the perpetuation of their stories and experiences.
How do you believe the book can help adults to talk to children about the topic of grief?
In the natural order of life, grandparents are usually the ones who leave first and are often the children’s first contact with this situation of loss and mourning of someone close. Addressing this issue with children is not a simple task, however, it is necessary. In this way, it becomes extremely important to deal with this subject appropriately in the literature, with naturalness, respect and affection, especially for young children, who still do not have a precise understanding of the subject, and that is what this book seeks. to bring.
What were the challenges in dealing with a sensitive subject like grief in a book aimed at children?
Dealing with the death of a loved one is a touching topic that is little worked with children, often still treated as a taboo, even so, the subject is of great relevance and needs to be addressed in works aimed at children. The biggest challenge was to resignify this mourning, making longing a pleasant memory.
In addition to the theme of grief, what other values or lessons do you hope to impart to readers through this story?
One of the things I consider essential to convey in this work is the power that stories have to connect us, to transport us to other worlds and develop our creativity and affectivity, showing the importance of perpetuating traditional stories and family stories. In addition, the affectionate relationship between generations (grandfather/grandson) is also something highly valued in this book and which I hope will be passed on to readers.
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