...including Diabetes and Asthma.
Little Mamá Forgets
Accompanied by wonderfully colorful illustrations, Lucy tells the reader about her grandmother, whom she calls, Little Mama, who forgets certain things but remembers others. Little Mama lives with Lucy and her family and sometimes forgets to how to do things like tie her shoes, make breakfast, and how to get to the park. But Little Mama also remembers things like how to dance, how to make tortillas, and that Lucy and her brother like chili dogs. Although the portrayal of Little Mama is a bit flat as the constant benevolent grandmother, this story celebrates the person of Little Mama, including her memory loss. Adults will need to contextualize the text for young readers who are unfamiliar with Alzheimer’s Disease. Highly recommended as a read-aloud for elementary school-aged children.
Grandfather's Story Cloth
Linda Gerdner and Sarah Langford
Third grader, Chersheng struggles with the changes his Grandpa experiences as a result of Alzheimer’s Disease. Chersheng learns from his mother that Grandpa’s brain is slowing down, which causes him to think more slowly and to forget more things, like Chersheng’s name. Chersheng’s mother attempts to appeal to his artistic side in order to show what Grandpa is capable of. She shares with him the story cloth Grandpa made about his life in Laos, which helps Chersheng engage Grandpa in telling stories about his youth. Watercolor illustrations compliment the text of this story, which is presented in both English and Hmong. The author, a registered nurse who has worked with patients with Alzheimer’s Disease, also provides additional information about the disease, the Hmong people, and story cloths. Recommended for upper elementary to early middle school readers.
The Remember Balloons
The richly multicolored balloons in this story represent memories and while the protagonist, a little boy, has some balloons, his parents have more than he does, and his grandfather has even more. He and his grandfather talk about the different memories contained in many of the different balloons his grandfather carries. Gradually, the little boy notices that his grandfather is losing his balloons, and even though the boy tries to help reclaim them, they still escape. Eventually, all of grandfather’s balloons are gone, which makes the boy very angry that his grandfather let them all go. The boy’s parents explain that the balloons aren’t all gone, but that the boy himself now holds the memories his grandfather shared with him. The story concludes with the boy sharing those stories with his grandfather. In this beautifully illustrated book, the author presents a powerful metaphor about the nature of memory, how it's shared, and how it’s used to communicate with loved ones whose memory is failing. This book is highly recommended for elementary children; however, if meant to convey a fictional experience about Alzheimer’s Disease, some context should be given before and after reading.
The Adventures of Javan and the 3 A's: #asthmasucks
Javan and his football team have made it to the championship game but Javan’s mother is worried about him playing because he recently has had trouble with his asthma. Javan’s mother asks him to tell her how he feels when he has an asthma attack. Javan describes how he feels as if he is in space but that his helmet gets a hole and he can no longer breathe. Javan and his mother agree that Javan will ask his coach for breaks if he needs them and take his medication. On game day, Javan helps the team win the game. As with other books in The Adventures of Javan series, this story does a good job of helping readers understand what it feels like for a person who has asthma. The illustrations are bright and fun. Although more information could have been given about how Javan copes with his asthma, this book is recommended for elementary-aged children.
I Have Asthma: What Does That Mean?
An unnamed boy describes to readers what it’s like to have asthma, experience an asthma attack, and manage the illness in order to feel well again. Text and illustrations portray technical aspects of asthma, medical interventions, and medical equipment in clear, calm, and child-friendly language and pictures. Illustrations also show main character and other multiracial children engaged in school, sports, recreational, and playground activities. Recommended for parents, teachers, and caregivers to share with very young through elementary school age children. Written by a mother and “inspired by her son’s allergies and asthma.”
Wendy J. Hall
Six-year-old Alison is coughing and has trouble breathing when she runs around or exercises so her mother takes her to see the doctor. After running two tests on Alison, both of which are explained by the medical practitioners, the doctor concludes that Alison has asthma. The doctor describes to Alison and her mother how people get air into their lungs so that they can breathe and how having asthma makes that more difficult. Helpful illustrations give readers a visual understanding of the doctor’s explanation. The doctor and nurse describe the causes of asthma, factors that Alison should avoid, and the inhalers she’ll need to use to feel better. The story ends with Alison being excited to get back to running around and being able to choose a medical bracelet to wear. Colorful, simple illustrations complement the text and aid in understanding this medical issue. Recommended for younger elementary-aged children who have asthma or children who know others with asthma.
Brianna Breathes Easy
Brianna and her family learn that she has asthma when she is rushed to the hospital right before her debut as the lead in her school’s upcoming Thanksgiving play. Brianna’s doctor (a woman of color) helps her recover and teaches her about the biology of asthma and how to manage her medications and stay well. When Brianna returns to school, she discovers that several of her classmates also have asthma and finds in them a supportive network. End papers, story text, and artwork provide child-friendly, but accurate descriptions of asthma, its triggers, remedies, and equipment (including nebulizers, inhalers, and peak flow meters). Story includes a strong warning about the dangers of exposure to cigarette smoke for people with asthma. Illustrations of strong intergenerational family and multicultural community relationships portray support for Brianna’s health and wellness journey. Recommended for parents, teachers, and caregivers to share with children of all ages.
Metu and Lee Learn about Breast Cancer
Dr. Shenin Sachedina
Marketing Summary: "You may be thinking, "Why do children need to learn about breast cancer?" Well, that's because this disease can strike women at any age, including in their forties, thirties, and even twenties. Women in this age group have young children whose lives are strongly impacted by this disease. Furthermore, studies show that kids may actually suffer clinical depression and other emotional problems when a mother is diagnosed with breast cancer. Recent online and journal articles show that parents with cancer need to figure out how to talk to their children about the disease, and that behavioral and emotional problems occur in families of women with breast cancer. This impact can be minimized with proper education for children. Metu and Lee Learn About Breast Cancer is a book for children five and up that will help them understand this disease and how it may affect the adult women in their lives."
Mom and the Polka-Dot Boo-Boo : A Gentle Story Explaining Breast Cancer to a Young Child
The narrator of this story is a mother telling her child about the fact that she has breast cancer, which she likens to a polka-dot boo-boo behind her skin. She further describes that she’ll have to take medicine that will make her hair fall out and that she’ll be tired and upset sometimes but the upside is that she and the child can go wig and hat shopping and that mom will have new energy to help her play with the child later on. The story ends with the mom’s promise that once her treatments are complete, she and the child will bid the cancer farewell and they’ll have a special mother-child date together. The rhyming text of this book is accompanied by child-created bright and happy drawings. This hopeful story is appropriate for elementary-aged children who need to be prepared for a loved one's experience with breast cancer.
Hair for Mama
Eight-year-old Marcus worries that his mother, who is undergoing chemotherapy treatments for cancer, won’t be able to take part in the annual Carter family picture day because the medicine she is taking has caused her to lose her hair. He promises his mother that “even if you lose all your hair, I’ll find you more.” Meanwhile, Marcus and his brother and sister try to find a solution by suggesting his mother wear a wig or a pretty African head wrap for the photographs. When none of those ideas seem to work, Marcus asks the family barber to cut off all his hair, thinking that he can give it to his mother to help her get better. His mother explains that “finding me hair wouldn’t make me better or worse” and promises that she “will never stop being your mama because I’ll always be with you in your heart.” Soon after the family pictures are taken, the doctor gives Marcus’ mother the good news that the chemotherapy treatments have been working. This is an uplifting and reassuring story with a happy ending that is recommended for older children. It describes cancer and cancer treatment in child-friendly language without exploring some of the realities of cancer and cancer treatment. Artwork in this book is lovely and illustrates a range of facial features and hair textures for the African American characters portrayed.
C is for Cerebral Palsy: A Child's View
Amy E. Sturkey
This is an ABC book about a boy who has cerebral palsey. Using simple, easy to understand language, the book walks the reader through what cerebral palsey is and the different ways it might manifest in people who have it. Brightly colored illustrations show the boy using various implements to assist with his movement including a wheelchair and orthotics. The text emphasizes the boy’s desire to play, get stronger, and interact with people. Recommended for elementary-aged children.
I Am Not Afraid: Surviving Type One Diabetes
Shelly M. Johnson
This book is written by an experienced educator for kindergarten through fifth or sixth graders and is designed to help parents, teachers or other adults introduce concepts and vocabulary related to Type One Juvenile Diabetes. Aubrielle (Aubrie for short) describes her experiences of being diagnosed with Type One Diabetes, staying at the hospital, meeting doctors and nurses, managing her glucose levels with a monitor, learning not to be afraid, and reassuring other children that they, too, can live a healthy life. The illustrations are quite lovely, but the intricate designs and colorful backgrounds compete with the large type on the pages, making the text difficult to read at times. A glossary and suggestions for using the book as a teaching tool are included in the endpapers.
Grandpa Teaches Me about Diabetes
Nicole A. Jones
There are many good things about this book. When a child learns that his grandmother has diabetes, his grandfather teaches him all that he knows about the disease. Lively, computer-generated pictures illustrate the workings of the human digestive system as it processes food and produces glucose and insulin. Other positive images show the grandfather and grandmother cooking in the kitchen together and the grandfather and grandson reading and writing together. However, the text and charts tend to convey too much technical and complex information at once and the prose/poetry language of the text is informative but seems forced. Recommended for middle school, high school, and adult readers who already have a basic knowledge of nutrition and the digestive system.
Emma's Extra Snacks
Calliou notices that his classmate, Emma, has been given permission to eat extra snacks throughout the school day, and he tries to understand the reason why he can’t do the same. When Emma and their teacher explain to the class that Emma has Type 1 (juvenile diabetes) and needs to manage her blood glucose levels throughout the day with food, Caillou worries about Emma’s health, but after Emma describes all the things she does to take care of herself, Calliou feels less worried. The story explains diabetes in child-friendly language and does a good job of highlighting the importance of nutrition, exercise, medication, and self-care in monitoring Type 1 diabetes in children. A helpful “note to parents” and a fold-out chart for children are included in the book’s endnotes. The television character Caillou may be familiar to some youngsters and families. The artwork is bright and colorful and portrays children of different ethnicities and abilities, but because of the stereotypical illustrations of the story’s main character, Emma, this book is not recommended.
Hi! My Name is Avery: The Beauty of Down Syndrome in the Classroom
Avery is nervous about starting school and asks the reader to consider being her friend. Avery describes how the reader and she are alike both physically and cognitively, and how she is different as well. Avery describes her interests, dislikes, and communication preferences. She also describes what Down Syndrome is. Part of the “Understanding Special Needs” series, the book’s eleven-year-old illustrator creates charming depictions of Avery and her world. Recommended for elementary-aged children.
Emma's Special Tummy
Paula C. Lancaster
When preschooler Emma continues to have multiple, severe tummy aches, her mother takes her to the doctor where she is diagnosed with eosinophilic esophagitis and severe food allergies. After undergoing medical procedures, Emma is required to wear “a special feeding tube in her nose that was taped to her face” that makes her look different, and she worries that her classmates won’t want to play with her. All turns out well when Emma discovers that the change in her appearance doesn’t make any difference to her curious friends. Endnotes explain that the book was written by a mother whose daughter was diagnosed with eosinophilic esophagitis and severe food allergies who wants to teach “other children and adults to be more compassionate and understanding of children with food allergies and children with other medical issues who may look different.” The story’s text and pictures that describe and illustrate the tests and procedures Emma undergoes to help the doctors diagnose her condition are very complex. Illustrations are computer generated and don’t adequately support the text as written (for instance, Emma’s expression changes just a few times throughout the whole story). Including child-friendly definitions for medical terms in the endnotes would have been helpful. Because this book fulfills a specific need, it is recommended for parents, teachers, siblings, and interested others who want to learn about this specialized topic.
Kyra Takes the Stage
When Kyra wins a contest to go backstage and meet her favorite entertainer, Blaize, she learns that before each show her idol experiences terrible stage fright. Since Kyra knows all the words and music to Blaize’s songs, she intervenes to empower and inspire confidence in Blaize—a little girl like herself--by singing and dancing with her before the show. Thus, in a turn of events, Kyra uses her talents and abilities to help Blaize. No longer feeling nervous, Blaize invites Kyra to perform onstage with her, and they are a hit. Later, the two girls build a long-distance friendship that involves traveling and writing songs together. Lively, non-stereotypical illustrations show that Kyra has a limb difference, a difference that is never mentioned in the text. The author states that her stories represent children and not their differences. This is a powerful book that teaches that there are many kinds of differences, differences do not have to limit experience, and that friends’ differences and similarities can complement each other. Recommended as a good text for inspiring confidence in children of a range of ages.
Lumo's Lumbar Puncture
Wendy J. Hall
Lumo wakes up one night with terrible pain in his head. His mother checks his temperature and sees that Lumo has a high fever and that he’s developed a rash on his arm, which she discovers are symptoms of meningitis so she takes Lumo to the emergency room. The doctor who examines Lumo tells him that meningitis is a disease that could hurt his brain and that the doctor will have to perform a lumbar puncture to determine if Lumo has meningitis. Lumo is scared but the doctor and nurse describe how the procedure will be carried out and that he’ll just feel a scratch. The doctor determines that Lumo does have meningitis, and Lumo has to stay in the hospital for a week to make a full recovery. Colorful, simple illustrations complement the text and aid in understanding meningitis and lumbar punctures. Recommended for elementary-aged children to better understand this kind of illness and hospital stays.
Sickle Cell Disease
My Brother Has Sickle Cell
Erica Gamble and Dwayne C. Robinson
Charles and his older brother Alvin have a lot in common, such as physical characteristics, favorite games, and favorite foods. But Charles knows that he and Alvin also have differences, such as Charles’ outgoing nature and Alvin’s tendency to be sad and never want to leave his mother’s side. Charles sees that there is something wrong with Alvin and that their mother is worried about him. After multiple visits to the hospital, Alvin is diagnosed with having sickle cell anemia. After Alvin’s diagnosis, Charles develops a deeper understanding of his brother and why he might act the way he does when he’s experiencing pain. The authors state that they wrote this book for readers to understand what their family member or friend who has sickle cell anemia, may be experiencing. To aid the readers in their understanding of the disease, the authors include information about sickle cell anemia and its symptoms. Alvin is described as “special” and that his mother “treated Alvin normal and wanted him to fit in.” While the authors’ good intentions are clear, the book’s use of normative language, combined with the lack of Alvin’s voice, makes this a difficult book to recommend.
My Friend Jen
In rhyming text, the narrator describes their friend, Jen, how they play together, and that they love to dance. The narrator then talks about the fact that Jen has sickle cell anemia and what that’s like for her. Excellent illustrations show what sickle cells look like and what happens in one’s veins during a sickle crisis. The narrator describes how Jen needs to stay warm and what that means for their playtime, and also how Jen needs to stay physically healthy to avoid a sickle crisis. Bright, colorful illustrations complement a very informative but accessible introduction to sickle cell anemia and what it’s like for a person who has it. Recommended for elementary-aged children as a read-aloud or as part of a broader focus on sickle cell anemia.
Sickle Cell Won't Defeat Me
This book alternates between the perspectives of a girl suffering the symptoms of sickle cell anemia and the images of the girl as a boxer accompanied by quotes. The illustrations are bright and appealing, but the overall editing of the book seems lacking. For example, one quote reads, “Through Jesus Stripes I am healed.” While the author’s seemingly good intent is to show the girl fighting this disease, the narrative is rather grim. Only recommended for comprehensive children's literature research based on the emic perspective of author.
The Adventures of the Sickler
During a sickle cell anemia emergency that lands him in the hospital, Chase Parker transforms from a “sick boy” into the Sickler, a powerful and empathetic superhero who helps him and other hospitalized children cope with their life-threatening illnesses. Written by a young man with sickle cell anemia, the purpose of the book is to promote awareness about the condition and to empower and comfort children with other serious illnesses requiring hospitalization. Comic book-style artwork accompanies the text and balances out the seriousness of the topic. However, the hospital is portrayed as a frightening place and the hospitalized children are shown as “scared, hurting, some crying, all wishing to go home” until the Sickler comes to their aid by using “superpowers to ease every pain, in every child, everywhere” and by telling them “everything will be ok.” No doctors appear in the story, making it seem that help and healing will come only from the Sickler’s super-human interventions. Parents are shown as positive supports, but other adult roles are portrayed stereotypically (for instance, the coach, firefighter, and EMT are all male; the nurse is female). This book does not teach children to self-soothe (instead, they rely on the Sickler to feel better) or understand what goes on in a hospital environment generally, but the familiar superhero motif could offer courage, hope, and reassurance to some sick children. Recommended with reservations for older children.
Meet Camden: Living with Sickle Cell Anemia
Ishia L. Washington-Gattis
Nine-year-old Camden describes to the reader what life is like for him living with sickle cell anemia, a disease that causes his “blood cells to be shaped like the letter C instead of a doughnut.” Camden explains that he can play sports with his friends, but when his C-shaped blood cells can’t move through his blood vessels easily it can become very painful and cause a “crisis.” When a “crisis” happens, he has to be hospitalized and receive treatment until the “crisis” passes, and he becomes well again. The story offers a child-friendly explanation of sickle cell anemia and the things Camden must do to stay healthy (among them, getting plenty of rest and drinking lots of fluids). At the end of the story, Camden tells readers that he wants to become a doctor one day and find a cure for the disease. Illustrations express strong friendships and parental support, and coloring book style endpapers show Camden engaged in a variety of fun activities. Despite the overall positive tone of the story, children may be frightened by Camden’s description of his hospital experiences (“I’m always a little scared…I don’t like getting shots or my blood taken, it hurts very bad.”). This book is recommended with reservations for grade school children (siblings, friends, and interested others) who want to learn more about sickle cell anemia. Parents, teachers, and caregivers should be prepared to offer information about the human body and what hospitals are like when reading this book with children.
Although the ability to whistle ran in his family, from the time John was born, he only communicated by whistling. He did not use words to speak like other children, but whistled like his friends, the birds, instead. When John entered school, his teachers discovered that he listened and learned “more carefully than anyone else” and helped his classmates learn with his musical whistling even though he did not use words. One of John’s classmates, Taleb, didn’t speak with words either, but instead communicated by drawing and playing a musical instrument called a bendir. The two boys “became inseparable—in their music and their friendship” until Claire, a new friend, came between them. One day, fearing that Claire is in danger, John surprises himself and Claire by calling out to her using both words and his voice. The story implies that from then on, John could communicate by speaking and whistling. The book’s innovative format, with pages opening in a nontraditional top-to-bottom instead of left-to-right way, underscores the innovative way the boys communicate with the rest of the world and with each other. Despite the author’s presentation of the boys’ communication styles as magical and special talents and not as disabilities or inabilities to speak, the overall message of the book is ambiguous. Was John’s ability to speak and whistle “better” than just whistling alone? Was his new friendship with Claire that caused him to speak more meaningful than his friendship with Taleb? The illustrations in this picture book are quite lovely, but the story presents mature themes that might be more suitable for older children and teens.
When Oliver Speaks!
Seven-year-old Oliver has made several attempts to try to get out of presenting his “All About Me” project to his class, but the day is finally coming when he’ll have no other options but to present. Worried, Oliver talks to his mother about his nervousness and she asks him if it stems from Oliver’s stutter. Oliver says he hates it, but his mother encourages him to accept his stutter as part of himself, just like his eyes, ears, and nose. Oliver’s mother says that a stutter is nothing to be ashamed of and she agrees to help Oliver practice for his presentation that he’s scheduled to give the next day. Oliver approaches the presentation with confidence and tells the class that he’s a person who stutters. This charmingly illustrated story is one that many children will relate to, and the depiction of Oliver’s stutter is easy to understand. Highly recommended for elementary-aged children.
The Girl Who Heard Colors
Jillian enjoys experiencing her world through each of her five senses. When she hears things, she sees colors, like the sound of the bell at school is orange, and her teacher’s call for recess is green. One day at school, when a lunchbox falls, Jillian’s teacher asks what that sound is and Jillian replies, “yellow!” Her classmates think it’s funny that Jillian can see color in sound, which makes Jillian very sad. Jillian’s teacher and parents are worried and she’s had tests by doctors but Jillian doesn’t know why everyone thinks it’s odd that she can see color in sound. On Music Day, Jillian and her classmates get to experiment with musical instruments that the guest musician has brought to class. While they’re experimenting, Jillian covers her ears and squeezes her eyes shut. When asked what’s wrong, Jillian explains that she’s hearing so many colors. Everyone is confused except for the visiting musician, who acknowledges that he hears colors too and that that ability is called synesthesia. That makes sense to Jillian, and her teacher and classmates seem to start accepting it, too. This story effectively celebrates the five senses, which could be easily explored with children in conjunction with this book. Recommended as a source that effectively demonstrates what synesthesia is and how one experiences it.
The Monk and the Yak
A monk and a yak live together in friendship and harmony high up in the Himalayan mountains. One winter, the monk falls very ill and asks the yak to seek help by delivering a message to a village several days away on foot. When the monk awakens in a room surrounded by other monks and friends, he learns that the brave yak has carried him on his back and through the snow to the village where he could receive help, and he expresses his gratitude. This book delivers a simple message about friendship and helping others during times of trouble and serious illness and is recommended as a read-aloud to children of all ages.
Harry Goes to the Hospital: A Story for Children About What It's Like to be in the Hospital
Howard J. Bennett
Marketing Summary: "Harry gets sick and he has to go to the hospital. But he's never been there and he's scared! There are lots of new people, he gets poked with needles, and he has to stay the night in a strange place. But with his parents' comfort and the help of lots of doctors, nurses, and especially his stuffed rabbit Barney, Harry learns that the hospital doesn't have to be a big, scary place."
My Mommy Medicine
Award-winning author, Edwidge Danticat, inspires us all to feel better with this story about a little girl who isn’t feeling well and all the delightful and familiar ways her mother comforts and takes care of her during her illness. Language and illustrations are quite beautiful and expressive throughout. Of note are the artist’s wonderful drawings of the little girl’s black-textured hair—from braids to curls and coils and puffs and twists. A male presence may have enhanced the story, especially since the author explains in the endnotes that many types of individuals can be nurturing caregivers and administer comforting “mommy medicine.” This book is recommended for parents or caregivers and children to read together and is appropriate for a range of ages, from very young through older children and, perhaps, even adults.
Raymond's Perfect Present
Therese On Louie
Raymond’s mother is very ill and must stay in bed. Inspired by a couple he sees on the street outside his window, Raymond wants to buy flowers for his mother as a present that might make her feel better. He decides to grow flowers in their apartment from seeds in small pots. After he plants the flower seeds, Raymond’s mother’s condition worsens and she’s forced to go to the hospital. While there, the flowers grow and blossom but begin to wither and die before Raymond’s mother returns home. Raymond is greatly disappointed and afraid his mother will feel the same; however, when his mother wakes up on her first morning back at home, she finds several birds who have come to eat the seeds from the withering flowers. Raymond and his mother spend mornings together, watching the birds and getting caught up. This is a beautifully illustrated and poignant story of a child who is trying to help his sick mother during a time when he feels helpless to do so. Highly recommended for elementary-aged children.
The Art of Miss Chew
Marketing Summary: "After spending the summer with her artist grandmother, Trisha knows she wants to be an artist, too. She's thrilled when her sketches get her into Miss Chew's special art class at the high school. A substitute teacher tells her she's wasting time on art when she should be studying - but fortunately, this is one battle that Miss Chew and Trisha are up for!"
Tashi and the Tibetan Flower Cure
Naomi C. Rose
Tashi loves being with her grandfather, but lately, he’s been sick and she’s unsure whether or not he’ll get better. Tashi remembers a Tibetan cure her grandfather told her about, in which the sick person is surrounded by flowers and the pollen makes them heal, so Tashi sets out to create that environment for her grandfather. With the cooperation of a local plant nursery owner and the reticent agreement of her grandfather, Tashi begins to take her grandfather to the nursery every Saturday to sit amongst the plants. Increasingly more and more people stop to visit with her grandfather and share their plants, much to the delight of Tashi’s grandfather. On his next doctor’s visit, Tashi’s grandfather learns that his health is getting better, which he chalks up to the flowers and friends that Tashi has introduced to him. The flowers are beautifully depicted by the painted illustrations in this nice story about the cure that love, friendship, and beauty can be. Recommended for elementary-aged children.
Snow White's Seven Patches
In this imaginative retelling of the Snow-White fairy tale, Snow White is born with vitiligo, appearing as seven patches of white skin shaped like the seven continents. Despite mistreatment because of her appearance, Snow White grows into a kind and resilient young woman who is adored and appreciated for her talents and inner beauty. There are many positive messages in this book, beginning with the adage “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.” Illustrations, which match the text, are exceptional. As in all fairy tales, the story ends happily ever after. This picture book is recommended for preteens and teenagers who will enjoy reading a new take on some old themes: “justice overcomes evil” and “love conquers all.”
Vitiligo Doesn't Scare Me
When 8-year-old Chris discovers white “spots” on his brown face, his parents take him to a doctor who diagnoses him with vitiligo, a skin condition caused by the loss of the pigment melanin. Even though his doctor and parents reassure him, Chris worries that his friends and classmates will tease him, and he prays that they won’t treat him differently when they see the changes to his face. At school, Chris allows his teacher to read a book about vitiligo to the class so that the other children can learn and understand. By the end of the book, Chris and his friends agree that “vitiligo doesn’t scare” them. Illustrations show the love and support Chris receives from his parents and his puppy. The author explains that she wrote the book to “encourage young children with Vitiligo to embrace their special uniqueness as Vitiligans, encourage them to share their feelings with others, and continue to be proud of who they are.” Recommended as a read-aloud for elementary and intermediate grade children to learn about the condition.
Lucy lives in Seattle, which requires her to often carry an umbrella with her. Whenever Lucy sees something beautiful, she makes note of it inside of her umbrella so she can be reminded of the beauty surrounding her. The reader follows Lucy’s trip to the park to have lunch with her mother. On the way, Lucy runs into her friends Lacey and Lorna and records the beautiful things about them in her umbrella. She does the same as she meets animals and then realizes that some of them have the same kinds of spots she does since she has vitiligo. She notes that she is beautiful as well. The story does a good job of introducing vitiligo in a way that makes it accessible for elementary-aged students to understand. The frequent use of L-names (Lucy, Linda, Lizzy, etc.) might make this a confusing read aloud, but the bright, colorful illustrations will attract readers, which makes this a recommended read.
Phyllis A. Russell-Gilmer
This story, told in rhyming text, is from the perspective of Phoebe who is “plain” and lives in a world where most people have vitiligo. Feeling very isolated because of her difference, Phoebe reaches out to her mother who tells her how special she is to be plain in a world of “spotted” people and that she should feel proud and beautiful as she is. Phoebe goes to school the next day with new confidence and makes some friends. The author includes a note at the end of the book, in which she tells her own story as a person with vitiligo. Recommended to be used with additional material about vitiligo or with elementary-aged children who have had introductory information about vitiligo.
Dinosaur Farm: A Vitiligo Story That is Not about Vitiligo
In this series of books which, according to the author, has been written specifically to empower and “serve kids with physical differences by creating relatable main characters and starring them in stories that are not about their physical differences.” Three of the books described here feature children of color who have a variety of physical differences. Mateo (who uses crutches), Ethan (who has vitiligo), and Raphael (who uses a walker) each individually star in stories with the same text about a child who loves dinosaurs and discovers what he thinks is a dinosaur egg on his grandparent’s farm. The children’s physical differences are never mentioned in the texts of the stories. Instead, Mateo’s crutches, Ethan’s vitiligo, and Raphael’s walker are portrayed matter-of-factly through the books’ illustrations. In one way, the stories present positive representations of individual differences and remove the stigma. On the other hand, because the stories are designed to offer no explanation about those individual differences, readers will be left with many unanswered questions (for instance, how did Mateo and Raphael climb up into the hayloft using crutches and a walker?). However, the storyline and character development are strong, so children will respond and interact with the stories. Teachers should be ready to fill in the gaps. Recommended for teachers to share with a wide range of ages in their classrooms.