Tag Archives: Disabilities

Not all Superheroes wear Capes – Quentin Kenihan

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9780733635359

SEP 27, 2016 | 9780733635359 | RRP $32.99

Hachette Australia

Those of us of a certain age will vividly remember when a tiny boy with a huge personality was first interviewed by Mike Willesee on television. The whole nation was immediately in love with a little boy facing enormous health issues.

When Quentin was born his parents were told that he wouldn’t survive for 24 hours. That baby is now over 40 and this is his memoir of his unexpected life, warts and all.

Over the years as Quentin moved in and out of the public eye Australia still embraced him warmly, though it would be fair to say that very few of us realised the struggles, mental and physical, that Quentin faced on an ongoing basis.

While his genetic condition has caused more physical pain and issues than most of us can even imagine, there have been battles with deep depression, alcohol and drugs, rejection from family and friends and colleagues, difficulties with work and more. There are no holds barred here as Q relates all of these in a very matter-of-fact manner. While he has had many moments of self-pity there is no evidence of it now. Rather here is a man who has triumphed over more adversity than one person deserves, and emerges still positive, still optimistic and still determined.

Quentin’s wit and humour, not to mention his blunt outspokenness, shine through his recollections, making this a highly engaging read. His unabashed name-dropping is a delight as are his exploits all over the globe.

Thank you Quentin for sharing your life with us, although it was often not your choice, many of us feel inspired and enriched knowing your story.

Recommended reading for secondary students and adults alike.

 

 

 

Elephant Man Mariangela Di Fiore, illustrated by Hilde Hodnefjeld, translated by Rosie Hedger

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 elephantman

ISBN:9781760292201

Publisher:Allen & Unwin

Imprint:A & U Children

Pub Date:February 2016

RRP $29.99

To be honest, when I received this in my review package a few weeks ago I was somewhat taken aback. I wondered how the sad story of Joseph Merrick could possibly be the subject for a picture book and I put it to one side for a while.

Then in one of those moments of synchronicity a recently made documentary which examined Merrick’s illness, life and death with the hindsight of modern forensic scientific research screened. My little granddaughter and I watched it and while she found it very sad it was also a good opportunity to talk with her about everyone being different and as she has an intellectual impairment and attends a special school, an even better chance to discuss the students who do not have ‘invisible’ disabilities.

That made me get the book off the review shelf and show it to her and I realise now that for older children this is actually a tremendous opportunity to learn something not only about the treatment of disabilities in past times but to foster that sense of compassion that so many of us strive to instil in young ones.

While this is a fictionalised account of Merrick’s life there is clearly the thread of authentic historical detail and cleverly interspersed with sensitive illustrations are facsimiles of original documents and photos.

This is not a picture book for younger readers but for readers around 8 and up or for use in conjunction with some classroom experience relating to disabilities, awareness and empathy I think it would be of huge benefit to many students.

Thank goodness that in general so much of society has moved from those ignorant Victorian attitudes, though we still have a long way to go. And also thank goodness that people like Frederick Treves had enough true humanity to make Merrick’s later life as happy as possible.

Recommended for readers from around Year 3 and up with careful debriefing where necessary.

 

Teaching notes are available from Allen & Unwin here.

Out of My Mind – Sharon Draper

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outofmymindSimon & Schuster Australia

  • Atheneum Books for Young Readers |
  • 320 pages |
  • ISBN 9781416971719 |
  • August 2013 |
  • Grades 5 and up |
  • Lexile 700

List Price

AU$ 11.99

NZ$ 13.99

 

This is an older title which I have only just read and if you loved ‘Wonder’ (R. J. Palacio) you will also love this book.

Melody is an extremely intelligent 11 year old girl with a photographic memory. The problem is that nobody knows this – not even her parents who are her strongest supporters. Melody has cerebral palsy and cannot walk, talk, feed herself or accomplish any physical actions except using her thumbs. Her schooling has been a torturous confinement to a ‘special education’ room where teachers come and go with scant disregard to their students’ abilities.

But Melody’s life is changing. A move to integrate the disabled students into mainstream classrooms is one positive, especially when accompanied by an intuitive young woman named Catherine who becomes Melody’s helper in class. Suddenly Melody has teachers who are keen to empower her and in particular Catherine’s brainwave about a device called a Medi-Talker allows Melody to find her voice. Her neighbour, retired teacher Rose, is another adult instrumental in fostering Melody’s emergence from her long silence.

Despite obstacles of bullying classmates and insensitive adults (teachers and doctors) Melody begins to shine as her extraordinary mental ability begins to emerge triumphantly.  With her hero being Stephen Hawking Melody knows that she too can conquer the world – even if it does take twice the effort of anyone else.

This is a marvellous novel and there is much to support it is a class study or simply as a recommendation to our students as we encourage them to become more empathic.

See more here at Sharon Draper’s website, watch a book trailer here or find some teaching notes here.

 

Highly recommended for astute readers of around 9 years and up.

 

 

Ugly – Robert Hoge

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ISBN: 9780733634338

Publication date: 11 Aug 2015

Page count: 160

Imprint: Hachette Australia

RRP $16.99

It has taken me a while to get to review this Younger Readers’ version of Robert Hoge’s successful memoir. My Year 8 students have been working on an English task which was to research and write a feature article about an inspirational hero and one of my young ladies had chosen Robert because she had started reading his memoir. I had just received this review copy so handed it to her in case she might find it helpful as well.  Not only does the book come with her recommendation, she was so delighted that Robert responded to her email to him and she has been able to ask him questions directly. What a generous human! Thank you Robert – you provided this wonderful young girl with an amazing learning experience!

Today I spent a very pleasant hour or so reading this funny and moving, honest and courageous recollection of growing up as the ‘ugly’ kid

Robert’s story is by now pretty well known to many adults who have either learned about his life via the book or the media but this new edition will bring his inspirational story to a whole new readership.

When Robert was born with severe physical problems including a large facial tumour, his family’s life changed in many respects but not in the most important aspect. They were still a loving, supportive unit who when faced with a challenge rose to it with an admirable and enviable ease.

But let’s not make light of this. This is an incredible story – of not only a wonderful human being but an exceptional family.

Do yourself a favour and read it. Better still put this on your shelves! The Younger Reader version is eminently suitable for readers of around 10 and up.

Check out Robert’s website here and teaching notes here