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Cincinnati artist, bookstore team up to promote Alzheimer's awareness in new children's book

Loren Long
Never Forget Eleanor
Posted at 6:16 AM, Jan 29, 2023

CINCINNATI — Ten years ago, Cincinnati-based writer and illustrator Loren Long lost his father to Alzheimer’s disease.

Through the loss, he attempted to turn to his talents to deal with his grief. Long tried many times to write a children’s book about the experience but said he found the process “was always too depressing, so I finally put it away.”

However, it seems fate had other plans.

Harper Collins Publishers recently acquired a manuscript called “Never Forget Eleanor” by best-selling author Jason June. The book focuses on a young elephant dealing with his grandmother's declining memory, and Long's literary agent forwarded him the book.

“I immediately identified with it and felt like it was a very loving, human, almost hopeful way to address a really awful disease through an approachable and caring children’s story” Long said.

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"Never Forget Eleanor" by Jason June, illustrated by local artist Loren Long.

Breaking into children's publishing in 2000 after years as a freelance illustrator, Long's art has graced books written by Madonna, Barack Obama, Frank McCourt and Matt de la Peña. “Change Sings,” written by Inaugural Poet Amanda Gorman will showcase Long's work.

He also wrote and illustrated his bestselling “Otis the Tractor” series, which was adapted into an animated Apple+ series.

After connecting with June, the seasoned author and illustrator said he learned the author found writing the story as a way of therapy for himself.

Long said he hopes the collaboration with June will give some type of comfort to those impacted by someone in their lives losing their memory.

"Perhaps a grandchild reading this book will know they are not alone, and the ultimate thing they can do is give love and time while they are alive and remember their loved one and let them live in their heart after they are gone," Long said. "And tell their stories."

Madeira's own locally-owned and -operated The Bookshelf is helping to launch the book release on Feb. 14.

The Bookshelf has been serving the Cincinnati community for 50 years, and current owners, Chris Weber and Jacques Gentile, pride themselves on personalized service and supporting local authors.

Long has been a long-time friend and favorite author of The Bookshelf, and Gentile believes Long’s newest book is an important one.

“This is an issue that impacts all of us, and it is often difficult to find the words to explain to kids," Gentile said. "'Never Forget Eleanor' is near and dear to The Bookshelf’s heart because it is a sweet and kind book that shows kids how they can both support and love a loved one when they start to forget.”

Weber agrees that the book is a good way to help loved ones who are struggling.

"We have many customers who struggle with memory loss and are in the early stages of Dementia or Alzheimer's, and it is hard to always know how to help them or their families," Weber said.

“Never Forget Eleanor” launches Feb. 14 and can be preordered through The Bookshelf.

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