Picture Book Helps Children Cope with Illness and Aging: Blowing Bubbles by Kathleen Cherry

Picture Book Helps Children Cope with Illness and Aging: Blowing Bubbles by Kathleen Cherry

Blowing Bubbles by Kathleen Cherry and illustrated by Jill Quinn-Babcock immediately caught my attention because of the eye catching cover. Then I was drawn to its topic because I have seen how difficult it is for young children to understand and accept changes in a loved one due to a serious illness or aging when my own grandchildren saw my father, slowly change because of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

In Blowing Bubbles, a picture book that helps children cope with illness and aging, children will see how the relationship between a boy and his grandfather changes and strengthens after Grandpa George has a stroke. I am sure parents, other caregivers, and teachers will find sharing Blowing Bubbles with their child or students is a great way to open up a dialogue about death, aging, illness or change in the lives of a loved one. Congratulations Kathleen Cherry on writing a much needed resource for schools and families to open up discussions on the difficult topics of illness and aging in a loved one.

Guest Post by Kathleen Cherry

Picture Book Helps Children Cope with Illness and Aging:

Blowing Bubbles

Book description:

Josh and Grandpa George have a great relationship. They go on excursions. They race go-karts and speed across the ocean in a bright red motor boat and whenever Grandpa George is truly happy he blows huge, shiny pink balloons of gum and he blows them just right.

Then Grandpa George has a stroke and Josh feels as though everything has changed. He hates seeing his grandfather in hospital.

But on a special visit, Josh realizes that although Grandpa George may have changed physically, he is still his own, very dear grandfather.

See the Blowing Bubbles website.

Reason for writing:

The author, Kathleen Cherry, is a school counsellor in northern British Columbia and loves to read books to her students. She found that although there are wonderful books about life’s challenges, like death and Alzheimer, selection was limited on those helping children to cope when a loved one is changed through illness and how to keep that connection.  She felt that this was particularly pertinent to boys who often rely on ‘doing’ in their relationships.

Target audience;

The author hopes that it will appeal to children from grades K-4. Although the book centers on a serious topic, the fun element is also strong. This book can be used in a one-on-one counselling session but would also make great classroom reading and family reading.


Grandpa George had race-car blue eyes that crinkled when he smiled, a bushy beard that tickled when he hugged and a batting arm that sent baseballs into left field.

And those bubbles! Grandpa George blew huge, shiny, pink balloons of gum and he blew them just right.

Josh got into a red go-kart. It was low to the ground, with a roll-bar and thick black tires. He gripped the steering wheel. He put on his helmet and pulled down his visor. 

“Next stop the Indy!” he shouted.

Then he put the pedal to the metal. The engine roared. And he was off. The wind blasted into his face. His eyes stung. His heart thumped. He zoomed around and around and around.

“Sweet! Did you see me? Did you see me go?” he shouted, scrambling out after the last lap.

“Och, that’s nothing,” said Grandpa winking. “That’s Grandma going shopping. Just you wait, kid.”

Then Josh saw it. For a second, he couldn’t believe it. He felt his jaw drop. Then the corners of his mouth lifted, turning into a smile which became a grin and then a laugh.

Grandpa George, his very own Grandpa George, was blowing a bubble. A pink bubble. It grew bigger. It grew rounder. It grew fuller. It grew shinier.

Grandpa George blew a huge, shiny, pink balloon of gum.

 And he blew it just right.

Kathleen Cherry author of Picture Book Helps Children Cope with Illness and Aging: Blowing Bubbles Biography of the Author:

Kathleen Cherry lives with her husband and two children in Kitimat, B.C, and works as a school counsellor.

Blowing Bubbles is Kathleen’s first children’s book.  Prior to publication, Blowing Bubbles  finalized in 2006 and 2009 in The Writers’ Union of Canada Writing for Children Competition.

Kathleen’s writing has been featured in Northword, Highlights for Children, Woman, Island Parent,  and Teacher.

Her post-secondary education was completed through the University of Victoria and she has a B.A. in Creative Writing and history and a Masters of Education in counselling. She took her teaching certification through SimonFraserUniversity in Vancouver.

Kathleen is currently pursuing a doctorate degree through WaldenUniversity in counselling psychology. She is very interested in bibliotherapy as well as the role of exercise in enabling children to function better in school.

As well as writing, Kathleen loves to run, hike, travel and read. She currently feels she is on a crash course in social media. Follow her still infrequent tweets on Twitter. She is currently developing a board for Pinterest entitled ‘Books Helping Kids’ and welcomes followers and suggestions.

Read our interview with Kathleen Cherry.

Biography of the Illustrator:

Jill Quinn Babcock lives in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, with her husband and youngest son. She has three grown sons living across Canada. She works in the school system with special needs children. She also runs a portrait business and paints for shows and competitions. Jill started illustrating in 1997.

About the Book:

Blowing Bubbles was released in December, 2012. It is 32 pages in length and in soft cover. It was published through Aaspirations Publishing and is available via that website. It is also available through Amazon.ca and Amazon.com. Many independent books stores also have it on their shelves. In Nova Scotia, Tattletales will have it in soon. It is also available through Kidsbooks in Vancouver, Bolen Books in Victoria, Rainforest Books in Prince Rupert, Misty River Books in Terrace, Books and Company in Prince George and Parentbooks in Toronto.

What the critics are saying:

“This is a perfect little nugget of literature that will speak to kids.”

— Helen Wilding Cook, the Children’s Collection Development Co-ordinator at Library Bound Inc.

“The bibliotherapeutic text does a very good job of conveying the child’s emotional point of view.”

— CM Magazine reveiwer, Linda Ludke,  a librarian in London, ON.

Blowing Bubbles would be an excellent tool for families with children coping with a grandparent with stroke, brain damage, a head injury, or even a sudden illness that leaves them significantly less vital. Children have no context for a loved one seeming suddenly different, and their questions and needs are too easily forgotten in the midst of sickness or tragedy.”

–Steve Baranciks, Best Children’s Books

“School counselors work with students like Josh almost every day, but it can be challenging to find quality resources to help children cope with illness and aging. Kathleen Cherry, a school counselor herself, created this beautiful story to fill that void. I definitely recommend this heartfelt and honest book. Check it out!”

–Marissa Rex – Elementary School Counselling.org

NOTE: We are updating this post on December 2nd 2016

School Visits and Workshops

Kathleen is happy to provide presentations for any age group and is willing to do as many as four workshops in a day.

Kathleen’s presentations are described on her web site.A True Friend with Autism in Tween Novel - Everyday Hero by Kathleen Cherry

Follow Kathleen Cherry:

Read Also:

Buy books by Kathleen Cherry:

  •  Picture Book Helps Children Cope with Illness and Aging: Blowing Bubbles Amazon.ca and Amazon.com

This post was written by Lorna
Lorna d’Entremont: Co-owner of SentioLife Solutions, Ltd. the company behind KidCompanions Chewelry (2007) and SentioCHEWS (2013), mother of three, grandma of 5 and wife. She is a retired teacher and special needs advocate. Throughout she has taught all levels from grade 2 to grade 9. Lorna loved teaching and enjoyed seeing the students progress in the school system. During her 30 year career she took a few years off to raise her three children.