June 17, 2021


by: admin


Tags: Book, Disability, Review, Wonderful


Categories: autism

A Evaluation of a Fantastic Guide on Incapacity

Cover of the book We move together
[image: Book cover with an orange background. An illustration of the lower halves of five folks
is at the top: A yellow guide dog, a person with brown skin using a cane, a person with
brown skin standing with their hand on their hip, a person with white skin and crossed ankles
standing with their hand on their hip, and a person with brown skin using a wheelchair.]

Review by Kate Ryan

We Move Together is a new picture book by a diverse team of authors (Kelly Fritsch, Anne McGuire and Eduardo Trejos) who have teamed up to write a love letter to the disabled community. In a word, it’s fantastic. It’s encouraging, it’s interesting, it’s understandable, it’s relevant – I could spend all day telling you how much I love this book. Unfortunately, as I discovered to my horror, it is entirely possible that the children in your life will not love it as much as you do.

This is the type of book that is aimed at both adults and children. It has a certain message that it wants to convey. It’s almost like studying for the handicapped in a picture-book format. Each page shows people of all abilities, races, ethnicities, ages, and gender identities and expressions participating in the community. The main message on each page is a simple “we” statement like “we wonder. We get curious ”. or “Sometimes we don’t agree on how to be together.” Smaller statements in a different font expand the message: “If we rely on each other, we will get where we need to go.”

The book ends with a beautiful scene of many people at a kind of disability rights event with signs saying “‘Nothing about us without us’ has access to love” “We are in this TOGETHER.” Then the next page shows a much calmer picture of an ideally accessible place where people play in a barrier-free playground, garden in raised beds or just go for a walk. It’s a perfect example of why disabled people have fought for our rights and continue to fight for our rights so that we can be part of society and do simple things like gardening and hang out with loved ones.

The illustrations on each page are deceptively simple. At first glance, you might just see a multitude of people. But the deeper you observe, the more amazing details come to light. There are people in all types of wheelchairs – wheelchairs that actually look like wheelchairs that people use, not just the clunky hospital type that the media usually portrayed. People in hijabs, crowns, helmets. You see people with guide dogs, sticks, pink and purple hair, trachea, feeding tubes. People in groups of all ages; People alone, but still clearly part of the community. I loved that there are people of all sizes who wear realistic clothes, with realistic bodies. The people in this book have bellies and wrinkles and breasts, and they wear leggings and crocs and sweatshirts that say “Black Lives Matter” and shirts with the rainbow symbol of neurodiversity. As a queer person, many of them read themselves as queer (although we have no idea, of course). I love the way these people remind me and make me like people I know.

And then – then comes the best. Because these people and their colorful, tight and lively faces not only look like people I know, in some cases they are literally people I have met or seen lectures online or seen in the media. A number of disability activists such as Leroy Moore, Mia Mingus and Alice Wong appear on these pages. As you read this book, it almost feels like you are visiting them and your disabled friends and community.

The reason some children don’t like this book is because there is no real storyline. Many children, especially those who read chapter books themselves, want a story with named characters and a clearly identifiable beginning, middle, and end. Also, many non-disabled children just don’t know that many disabled or queer people, or even people of different races, unless they are very lucky. You may be wondering why you are showing them this book that has nothing to do with people like them. For this reason, I think this book should be read with someone older, and not just added to a bunch of casual reading like “Cowardly Clyde” or “The Penderwicks,” as wonderful as those stories are. This is not a book to read before nap or rest. It’s a book that you sit down and introduce, and refer to things the kids already know, like the Black Lives Matter movement. The glossary on the back is great because it explains the simple ideas like accessibility and ableism in much more depth.

This book belongs in every library to which children have access. It should be read to the classes – I think it is suitable for any elementary school age or even middle school student. It would be a great book to read during religion class or children’s time in a religious institution. After reading it, it should be left out so the kids can come across it and study it and see how the kid likes to lie down while reading, just like they do, or for these people to enjoy their ice cream or something. For some reason a cat pops up on many pages.

The book’s website, www.WeMoveTogether.ca, has a very detailed study guide and some fun activities like word searches and coloring pages. Text descriptions of the illustrations are also currently available, and there are plans to add YouTube videos of the full book with ASL interpretation, audio descriptions and captions, and an accessible e-book. With the book just out this year and people just busy trying to survive a pandemic, it’s understandable that these things are not yet available, but if they are, I’m sure the disabled community will take full advantage of them . It would also be beneficial for able-bodied children to read the story the traditional way and then the non-traditional way to see what it is like to experience a book in a format they don’t normally use.

As a disabled child in the 90s, I didn’t know there was such a thing as a disabled community. I didn’t know any disabled adults. I know that unfortunately this still applies to many disabled children today. I think this book is an especially important book for disabled children and their families because it is a book about people like them who lead normal lives. It’s easy to find stories about Helen Keller or Paralympians. It is more difficult for children to imagine a future that they do not know exists, in which people live and work in a society that is becoming more accessible every year. A place where they can find a place, find friends, find a select community. And as this book shows, this community is alive, diverse and growing. And it’s definitely worth getting to know this community.


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