Flashback Friday: Itzhak: A Boy Who Loved The Violin

For Flashback Friday I want to look back at a fantastic picture book biography published back in May of 2020. Itzhak: A Boy Who Loved the Violin by Tracy Newman and Abigail Halpin tells the story of world-renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman.

Title: Itzhak : A Boy Who Loved the Violin
Author: Tracy Newman
Illustrator: Abigail Halpin
Published: May 12, 2020
Publisher: Abrams
Format: Picture Book

Beginning with his childhood in Tel Aviv and ending with Itzhak Perlman’s first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show in 1958, this stunning book perfectly captures the beauty of Itzhak’s music. Young readers will learn of Itzhak’s fight for his life when he was hospitalized for polio at the age of four, and how he was paralyzed by the disease. They will also learn of how Itzhak never let his paralysis hold him back from his dreams.

Readers will also learn that, like many other musicians, Itzhak Perlman has synesthesia. This neurological condition allows him to see music as color. I absolutely love the way Abigail Halpin captures the colors of music on every page of Itzhak.

Itzhak is a beautiful story of perseverance and the love of music. I would highly recommend it! You can pick up your own copy wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Abrams for providing me with a review copy of Itzhak. I can always count on Abrams to deliver fantastic picture book biographies, and I can never get enough.

About The Author:

Tracy Newman is the author of many books for young readers, including the . . . Is Coming series. She lives in coastal New England. 

About The Illustrator:

Abigail Halpin is the illustrator of many books for young readers, including Finding Wild and Mama’s Belly. She lives in Maine.

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Review: Dancing With Daddy

Dancing With Daddy by Anitra Rowe Schulte and Ziyue Chen gives young readers a glimpse into the life of a young girl with Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome. Though the Author’s Note in the beginning of the book provides some great information around this rare chromosomal disorder, Dancing with Daddy really shines as a story about a daughter’s unbreakable bond with her father.

Title: Dancing With Daddy
Author: Anitra Rowe Schulte
Illustrator: Ziyue Chen
Publisher: Two Lions
Published: December 1, 2021
Format: Picture Book

Following a young girl named Elsie as she and her sisters prepare for the Father Daughter Dance at her school, Dancing with Daddy begins with Elsie picking out a beautiful dress. Elsie is feeling worried that the dance might be cancelled because of the snow, but luckily this story has a happier ending than that. The snow falls, but the dance is on, and Elsie and her sisters get to dance the night away with their Daddy.

The disabled representation in Dancing With Daddy is absolutely phenomenal. From feeding tubes to wheelchairs, young readers will see all the tools Elsie uses throughout her day, providing positive representation for children who use these tools and education for those that are unfamiliar. Adults may learn a thing or two as well! I was not familiar with Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display (PODD) books before reading Dancing With Daddy, and I’m so grateful to learn about another way people can communicate with one another.

The illustrations by Ziyue Chen are absolutely lovely and capture all the joy of the Father Daughter Dance. I especially loved the detail put into Elsie’s dress and all its wonderful ruffles.

Dancing With Daddy is available wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Two Lions for providing me with a review copy of this wonderful book!

About The Author:

Anitra Rowe Sculte has worked as a journalist for the Kansas City Star and the Sun-Times News Group, as a staff writer for Chicago Public Schools, and as a publicist. She is the mother of three beautiful girls, one of whom has Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome and is the inspiration for Elsie in the book. She lives in the Chicago area and this is her first picture book. Learn more about her at http://www.anitraroweschulte.com and follow her @anitraschulte on Twitter.

About The Illustrator:

Ziyue Chen is the Deaf illustrator of a number of children’s books, including Mela and The Elephant by Dow Phumiruk, How Women Won the Vote by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, and Rocket-Bye Baby: A Spaceflight Lullaby by Danna Smith. She lives with her loved ones in Singapore. Find out more at http://www.ziyuechen.com or follow her @ziyuechen on Instagram.

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Review: My City Speaks

As many of you know, I recently moved from my quiet house in a sleepy city on the Gulf Coast to an apartment in the busy city of St. Louis. I’ve always loved a city, and since moving, I’ve been on the lookout for books to share that love with my toddler who has only ever known the quiet home we’ve had for the last two years. My City Speaks by Darren Lebeuf and Ashley Barron is the perfect book to help him learn to love his new city, and I wanted to share it with you all today.

Title: My City Speaks
Author: Darren Lebeuf
Illustrator: Ashley Barron
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Published: September 7, 2021
Format: Picture Book

The follow up to My Forest is Green and My Ocean is Blue, My City Speaks follows a young vision impaired girl as she and her father travel to through her city on the way to her violin recital. Our young narrator describes her experience in her city in poetic prose, detailing the sounds, smells, and tastes she finds along the way.

Much like the previous books by this duo, the text is perfectly sparse and pairs beautifully with Ashley Barron’s illustrations. Her cut-paper collage technique always brings me right back to my childhood and makes me feel like the characters will walk right out of the pages.

My City Speaks is a celebration of urban communities, but it is also a great introduction to conversations about disability, accessibility, and assistive devices such as white canes. You can pick up your own copy today wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Kids Can Press for providing me with a review copy of My City Speaks! I know I will be reading this one many times to my little one as he learns all about his new city.

About The Author:

Darren Lebeuf is an award-winning photographer with a background in design and visual communication. He is the author of My Forest Is Green and My Ocean is Blue. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

About The Illustrator:

Ashley Barron is an award-winning illustrator who specializes in cut-paper collage. Her creations can be found in children’s books, newspapers, set designs and shop windows. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.

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We Move Together

I’m a little late to the game, but that won’t stop me from sharing We Move Together by Kelly Fritsch and Anne McGuire with you all today. Released last month, this beautifully inclusive picture book focusing on disability justice is a perfect example of what Mutually Inclusive is all about.

We all move through the world in different ways, and it’s so important to provide young readers with visible examples of the many assistive devices people with disabilities use on a daily basis. Normalizing characters with disabilities in children’s literature is such a great way to accomplish this goal, and We Move Together does it flawlessly.

In We Move Together, we follow a diverse group of mixed-ability children and their families as they overcome everyday barriers and come together to connect with the disabled community. Whether it’s solving accessibility issues or preparing for a protest, We Move Together provides young readers with a wonderful example of a community working together to ensure everyone’s needs are met.

We Move Together offers more disabled representation than I’ve found in any other book. Children who use crutches, canes, walkers, wheelchairs, scooters, ventilators, sign languages, and more will see themselves represented on every spread. The bold, colorful illustrations by Eduardo Trejos are fantastic! The careful attention to detail and accuracy in depicting all the assistive devices on each page is a wonderful example of the respect and care We Move Together shows the disabled community.

We Move Together is also an amazing resource for classrooms and school libraries. The back matter contains lots of additional information about accessibility, ableism, and the disability community.

Be sure to pick up your copy of We Move Together today wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Dr. Kelly Fritsch is a disabled writer, educator, parent, and feminist disability studies scholar based in Ottawa, Canada. Please visit her website at kellyfritsch.ca to learn more about her and her work.

Anne McGuire is a disability studies scholar and Associate Professor at the University of Toronto. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her Twitter.

Eduardo Trejos is a Costa Rican graphic designer, visual artist, and illustrator based in Toronto, Canada. Please visit his website at edtrejos.com to learn more about him and his work.

I also want to thank AK Press for publishing such a wonderfully inclusive book, and sending a copy my way.

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You Are Enough: A Book About Inclusion

If you are looking for an empowering picture book about inclusion with disabled representation, I’ve got the perfect pick for you today.

You Are Enough by Margaret O’Hair is inspired by viral sensation and Down syndrome advocate Sophia Sanchez. Opening with a lovely letter from Sophia herself, this book is all about being kids, being brave, and being yourself.

Perfect for fans of Be Brave! by Sonia Sotamayor and All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold, You Are Enough encourages young readers to embrace their differences, because those differences are what make us who we are.

Throughout the book there is a gentle message that we may be misunderstood, but with courage, conviction, and the support of our friends and families we can be proud of who we are, because we are all enough.

I absolutely love the illustrations by Sofia Cardoso. While I was thrilled to see the extremely diverse cast of characters pictured, I was most impressed with Sofia’s ability to capture the personality of those characters on every single page.

You Are Enough is available next week (March 2, 2021), but you can preorder it today wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and continue bringing content to you. Your support is always appreciated!)

Margaret ‘Meg’ O’Hair is a mom, teacher, and award-winning writer. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at margaretohair.com.

Sofia Cardoso is an illustrator and designer based in Portugal. To learn more, be sure to check out her website at sofiacardoso.com.

Sofia Sanchez is an actress, model, Down syndrome advocate, and fifth grade student who lives in Northern California with her family. You can learn more about Sofia and her story at sofia-sanchez.com

I would also like to thank Scholastic for providing me with a review copy of such a delightful book. I absolutely adored You Are Enough, and I am so glad to be able to share it with you all.

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Five Books With Disabled Representation For International Day Of Persons With Disabilities

Since 1992, International Day of Persons With Disabilities has been dedicated to raising awareness of the issues they face. In honor of this day, I want to raise awareness by sharing a few books with great disabled representation.

(Please Note: This article will contain affiliate links. I do receive a small commission from sales made with these links. This commission is used to maintain this website and continue bringing content to you all.)

Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You by Sonia Sotomayor, Illustrated by Rafael Lopez

Written by Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor, this picture book is the perfect introduction to disabilities for children. In this book, we meet a number of children who are all differently abled. From diabetes to dyslexia, all the children introduce themselves to the reader, explaining their disability or learning disorder. The real message of this book is that we are all different, and our differences make the world a better place. I would consider Just Ask a must-have for any child’s library.

I Will Dance by Nancy Bo Flood, Illustrated by Julianna Swaney

In I Will Dance, we are introduced to Eva, who was born with cerebral palsy and uses a motorized wheelchair to move around. Eva longs to dance, but she doesn’t believe it is possible until she finds a newspaper ad calling for dancers of all abilities. Inspired by a true story, this is a beautiful story of a disabled girl fulfilling her dreams. I love the illustrations in this one, and the way they capture the movement of the children dancing.

All the Way to the Top: How One Girl’s Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything by Annette Bay Pimentel, Illustrated by Nabi Ali

This picture book tell the story of Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins, an activist and wheelchair user who crawled the steps of the Capitol Building during a demonstration protesting Congress to pass the Americans With Disabilities Act. All The Way To The Top is a great book to open up conversations with your children about issues disabled people are faced with, and how it is necessary to stand up for their rights the same way we stand up for other marginalized people in our communities.

Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson, Illustrated by Sean Qualls

Emmanuel’s Dream is a picture book relating the true story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, a Ghanaian man who was born without a tibia in his right leg. Because he was born in a country where babies with deformities are considered “curses”, Emmanuel faced a unique set of obstacles. Though he was dismissed by many in his community, including his father, Emmanuel still worked hard to learn to bring himself to school, play soccer, and ride a bike. Emmanuel goes on to ride 400 miles across Ghana to bring attention to the issues faced by disabled people there.

I Am Not a Label: 34 Disabled Artists, Thinkers, Athletes and Activists from Past and Present by Cerrie Burnell, Illustrated by Lauren Mark Baldo

Like the title implies, I Am Not A Label is a fantastic collection of biographies of 34 different artists, thinkers, athletes, and activists throughout history (including present day), paired with wonderful illustrations from Lauren Mark Baldo. From Stephen Hawking to Lil Wayne, this book shares the unique obstacles each of these trailblazers have overcome to find success in their fields. Many disabilities are represented, from blindness to fibromyalgia. This is a great book to normalize disability for young readers.

Obviously, there are LOTS of other options for disabled representation in our children’s libraries, but these are a few of my favorites at the moment. What are your favorite books with disabled representation to read to your little ones? Comment below to share!

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A Kids Book About Disabilities

Did you know that tomorrow is the International Day of Persons With Disabilities? This holiday was established back in 1992, and it aims to promote the rights of disabled folks and raise awareness of issues faced by the disabled community. I can’t think of a better book to start conversations about disabilities than A Kids Book About Disabilities.

Written by Kristine Napper (a teacher and lifelong wheelchair user), this book is a straightforward introduction to the disabled experience for young readers. Kristine speaks directly to the reader in a conversational way, introducing herself and detailing her experience as a disabled person. She gently introduces the concept of discrimination, but explains that disabled people want to be treated normally, because they ARE normal.

There are no traditional illustrations in A Kids Book About Disabilities, but there is a great color scheme of blue, white, and yellow throughout, with a few one word spreads for emphasis. This simple design is a brilliant way to make Kristine’s message the primary focus of the book, but keep young readers’ attention with fun colors.

A Kids Book About has lots of books like this one in their collection. From Anxiety to Racism, their books run the gamut on topics that are equally challenging and important to discuss with our children. You can find A Kids Book About Disabilities and all their other books at www.akidsbookabout.com.

I would also like to thank A Kids Book About for providing me with a review copy of this book. I can’t wait to pick up more!

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