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Children's Fiction General

The Little Word Catcher

by (author) Danielle Simard

illustrated by Genevieve Cote

Second Story Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2008
General, Multigenerational, General
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2008
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2008
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 5 to 8
  • Grade: 1 to 3
  • Reading age: 5 to 8


Elise’s grandmother used to know many words, but now she seems to be losing them all the time. Can Elise help her by catching them, like butterflies in a net? This award-winning picture book offers a gentle exploration of the effects of Alzheimer’s.

About the authors

Danielle Simard has always wanted to write and illustrate books for children. She already has created almost fifty of them, winning many awards and prizes, including the Governor General’s Award. Danielle loves visiting schools and libraries, talking to the young people who read her books. She lives in Mercier, Quebec.

Danielle Simard's profile page



Enfant, Geneviève Côté adorait dessiner. Elle s'inventait des histoires simplement pour le plaisir de les illustrer. Au fil des ans, elle a continué à nourrir sa passion pour le dessin et les arts, si bien qu'elle a décidé d'en faire une carrière. Après avoir étudié les arts et la communication au Cégep, elle a terminé, en 1987, un baccalauréat en infographie à l'Université Concordia, à Montréal. Geneviève a illustré plus de 25 livres pour enfants. Comme auteure-illustratrice, elle a publié chez Scholastic Quel éléphant? et Je suis là, Petit Lundi. Elle a reçu le Prix du Gouverneur général pour ses illustrations en 2007. Geneviève vit à Montréal et travaille dans un atelier du centre-ville.


Geneviève Côté
studied art and graphic design at Concordia University in Montreal. She has
illustrated numerous books for children. She also enjoys writing her own
stories: Quel éléphant? (What Elephant?) and Je suis là, petit Lundi (With You Always, Little Monday)
were the first books that she both wrote and illustrated. Côté's editorial
art has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe and other
publications. Her books have received three nominations for the Governor
General's Award for Illustration, one of which she went on to win. She has
also won the Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Award.


Genevieve Cote's profile page


  • Winner, Governor's General Award for Illustration

Editorial Reviews

A finely developed tool to assist children and families in understanding and accepting the erosions of Alzheimer’s disease in a beloved, familiar, mature mind and psyche.

Children's Bookwatch

Danielle Simard has eloquently captured the whimsy of a child testing and considering a variety of answers to a puzzle. Gently told and beautifully illustrated and with an ending that is both believable and reassuring, The Little Word Catcher will offer a way to open conversations about Alzheimer's in a supportive manner...for families as yet untouched by the illness, this book can be a lovely bedtime story about the special relationship between a young girl and her grandmother. For families struggling with the changes that Alzheimer's brings about in families, The Little Word Catcher will be a gift...Highly Recommended.

CM Magazine

Danielle Simard has written a moving and sensitive story about a girl trying to make sense of her grandmother’s memory loss. Such beautiful and inspiring text with a loving and satisfying ending.

Children's Books Heal

Presents metaphors and coping strategies that a young child can understand.

The Montreal Review of Books

Audiences of all ages can connect to the characters’ journey to accept and understand their “new normal” through the beautiful drawings and narrative of their interactions at home and outside in nature. The topic of a loved one’s memory loss is presented in a sensitive, child-friendly context of caring family relationships. The author provides us with plenty of optimism to continue Elise’s quest with a spirit of adventure: “…I will have to find out where her words are hiding. I could catch them all with a big net…”

ETFO Voice

This is an excellent book for Primary and Junior classrooms. It might also work well as a resource for a response journal for Intermediate students. The subject matter is handled with a sensitivity and depth that will likely promote further discussion among children and their teachers or parents.

Professionally Speaking (Ontario College of Teachers)

Librarian Reviews

The Little Word Catcher

Second Story Press has brought the Governor General’s Literary Awardwinning La petite rapporteuse de mots to English-language readers. The Little Word Catcher tells the bittersweet story of a young girl who is trying to understand Alzheimer’s disease.

When little Elise notices that her grandmother keeps forgetting her words, she wonders whether they’ve been lost like a set of keys. Elise’s logic turns words – ethereal, light and airy entities – into tangible objects. According to Elise, words have the potential to be misplaced in purses, vases or cupboards. They can be lent to another person, hidden away, worn out or caught in a net. The same way one would catch butterflies, Elise wonders if she can catch all of her grandmother’s words… and give them back to her.

This moving picture book will enchant readers through Danielle Simard’s delicate and pure writing and Geneviève Côté’s elegant yet playful watercolour illustrations. Côté was awarded the 2007 Governor General’s Literary Award for Illustration for La petite rapporteuse de mots. The soft, hazy and tragic effect of memory loss is captured through the technique of photocopying and re-photocopying her original illustrations. And her use of white space for the grandmother’s loss of words is simply heartbreaking.

The highlight of The Little Word Catcher is Elise and her compassion for her grandmother. Her dedication to both understanding and loving her grandmother is inspiring.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Summer 2008. Vol.31 No.3.

The Little Word Catcher

Elsie’s grandmother used to know many marvellous words, but now she seems to be losing them all the time. This story offers a gentle explanation of the effects of Alzheimer’s on relationships in a family. It was first published in French as the award-winning La petite rapporteuse de mots.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. 2009.

Other titles by Genevieve Cote