Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You
by Sonia Sotomayor
illustrated by Rafael López
Philomel / Penguin; 2019
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Beginning with a personal letter to readers, Sotomayor explains that she was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 7, and how she sometimes felt different because of that. Every day she gives herself a shot of insulin, the medicine she needs to stay healthy. Other kids were curious, but they never asked her about it. And yet, if we can ask why someone is doing something different, we can understand each other more fully and appreciate our differences.
Young Sonia and 11 friends gather together to plant a garden, celebrating the magical diversity of plants. Each child introduces their own disabilities and chronic illnesses—ranging from diabetes to deafness—explaining how this is part of who they are and how they do things. As each finishes, they turn to the reader to ask a question, like “Do you use a tool to help your body?” or “How do you use your senses?”
I especially appreciate how each child speaks for themselves, explaining what makes them unique and how they want to be understood.
“For me listening comes more easily than talking–and I’m a really good listener. My name is Anh and I speak with a stutter, so I sometimes repeat a word or get stuck when I try to say it. It may take me a little longer to express myself, and sometimes I’m too shy to talk, but I understand everything that’s going on. Do you ever wonder if people understand you?”
As Sotomayor told NPR, she hopes that readers can understand that our differences make us each special and interesting. “I want every child to understand that whatever condition they bear in life, they are special in a good way.”
This affirming book will make a lovely read-aloud for families and classrooms, encouraging children to think about our differences, what makes us special, and how important it is to learn about each other.
The review copy was kindly sent by the publishers, Philomel / Penguin. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases if you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site.
©2019 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books