Mama's Chickens - an empowering new childrens book about early onset dementia

Written by: Dianne Edmonds Posted on 03 Mar 2023 0

How do you express love when words fail you? 

This beautiful picture book by award-winning Australian author, Michelle Worthington, uses the writers own experience of early onset dementia to explore the topic in a child friendly way.

The book is illustrated by Nicky Johnston. 

65% of total deaths due to dementia globally are women, many of whom are caregivers at the time of diagnosis. Contrary to popular belief dementia does not only impact the elderly. In fact 28,000 of the Australians living with demential today are mothers under the age of 50 with children at home.

Award-winning Brisbane children's author Michelle Worthingon is one of those women. She has been diagnosed with Progressive Nonfluent Aphasia (a form of dementia).

Michelle's new picture book Mama's Chickens has been released, which she hopes will raise awareness and help children understand what dementia can look like when their caregiver suffers from it. 


Like other people with this condition and Michelle herself, the character in Mama's Chickens experiences memory loss, difficulty thinking, trouble recognising people, and confusion.

In the story Mama's nurturing relationship with the family's brood of backyard chickens is a metaphor for the relationship with her children. As Mama's dementia progresses the children see that she doesn't always act like her old self anymore. This upsets both the children and the chickens, but Mama always finds ways to show them just how much they are wanted and loved.

Children will relate to the endearing personalities of the chickens, while Michelle's lived experience infuses the story with honesty and hope. The result is a supportive, and much-needed book about a reality that many families face.

Mama's Chickens is available from EK Books.


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