Always interested in edges, margins, and connections, Dana Walrath weaves many distinct threads through her work in graphic medicine. After years of using stories to teach medical students at the University of Vermont's College of Medicine, she spent 2012-2013 as a Fulbright Scholar at the American University of Armenia's School of Public Health and at the Institurt of Archeology and Ethnography of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia. She is the co-author of one of the leading college textbook series in anthropology and her verse novel, Like Water on Stone, set during the Armenian genocide, is forthcoming from Delacorte Press in 2014.
Alice was always beautiful Armenian immigrant beautiful, with thick, curly black hair, olive skin, and big dark eyes, writes Dana Walrath. Alice also has Alzheimer's, and while she can remember all the songs from The Music Man, she can no longer attend to the basics of caring for herself. Alice moves to live with her daughter, Dana, in Vermont, and the story begins.
Aliceheimer's is a series of illustrated vignettes, daily glimpses into their world with Alzheimer's. Walrath's time with her mother was marked by humor and clarity: With a community of help that included pirates, good neighbors, a cast of characters from space-time travel, and my dead father hovering in the branches of the maple trees that surround our Vermont farmhouse, Aliceheimer's let us write our own story daily a story that, in turn, helps rewrite the dominant medical narrative of aging.
In drawing Alice, Walrath literally enrobes her with cut-up pages from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. She weaves elements from Lewis Carroll's classic throughout her text, using evocative phrases from the novel to introduce the vignettes, such as Disappearing Alice, Missing Pieces, Falling Slowly, Curiouser and Curiouser, and A Mad Tea Party.
Walrath writes that creating this book allowed her not only to process her grief over her mother's dementia, but also to remember the magic laughter of that time. Graphic medicine, she writes, lets us better understand those who are hurting, feel their stories, and redraw and renegotiate those social boundaries. Most of all, it gives us a way to heal and to fly over the world as Alice does. In the end, Aliceheimer's is indeed strangely and utterly uplifting.
"Evocative and hopeful," says Newbery Honor-Winner Rita Williams-Garcia of this intense survival story set during the Armenian genocide of 1915.
It is 1914, and the Ottoman Empire is crumbling into violence.
Beyond Anatolia, in the Armenian Highlands, Shahen Donabedian dreams of going to New York. Sosi, his twin sister, never wants to leave her home, especially now that she is in love. At first, only Papa, who counts Turks and Kurds among his closest friends, stands in Shahen's way. But when the Ottoman pashas set in motion their plans to eliminate all Armenians, neither twin has a choice.
After a horrifying attack leaves them orphaned, they flee into the mountains, carrying their little sister, Mariam. But the children are not alone. An eagle watches over them as they run at night and hide each day, making their way across mountain ridges and rivers red with blood.
"I have walked through the remnants of the Armenian civilization in Palu and Chunkush, I have stood on the banks of the Euphrates. And still I was unprepared for how deeply moved I would be by Dana Walrath's poignant, unflinching evocation of the Armenian Genocide. Her beautiful poetry and deft storytelling stayed with me long after I had finished this powerful novel in verse."
--Chris Bohjalian, author of The Sandcastle Girls and Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands
"A heartbreaking tale of familial love, blind trust, and the crushing of innocence. A fine and haunting work."
--Karen Hesse, Newbery Medal-winning author of Out of the Dust
"This eloquent verse novel brings one of history's great tragedies to life."
--Margarita Engle, Newbery Honor-winning author of The Surrender Tree
"This beautiful, yet at times brutally vivid, historical verse novel will bring this horrifying, tragic period to life for astute, mature readers."
--School Library Journal, Starred
"A shocking tale of a bleak moment in history, told with stunning beauty.”
--Publisher’s Weekly, Starred
“A powerful tale balancing the graphic reality of genocide with a shining spirit of hope and bravery in young refugees coming to terms with their world."
— Anne O'Malley, Booklist
"This book is written in free verse, rather than traditional prose form. This unusual medium expresses the horrors of the Armenian genocide with precision and eloquence without overwhelming the reader. The author took chances with this book, and those chances paid off handsomely. This is an excellent novel, highly recommended for any library."
-- Heather Pittman, VOYA
“Like Water on Stone is as wrenching as it is evocative and hopeful. Dana Walrath has only begun to scratch the surface of her imaginative gifts.””
-- Rita Williams-Garcia, Newbery Honor Award-winning author of One Crazy Summer