Illustrators: Karin Littlewood
Age Range: 5-7 years
Opening Page: Catherine is a special girl and she can do special things. Catherine has a special walk too.
Jacket Flap: What makes Catherine so special? Lots of things, says Catherine’s dad. She can clap her hands quietly so that no one can hear. She walks smoothly in boots no one else can walk in. And she’s a really good listener….
Synopsis: Based on the authors niece this beautiful, tender story helps young readers understand that we should look on those with disabilities not as different, but as special. Catherine’s dad gently points out to Frances, Catherine’s cousin, the special things Catherine can do, even allowing Frances to try and walk in the special shoes Catherine has to wear to enable her to walk aided. Frances falls over , realising Catherine can do things, she herself cannot. Catherine cannot talk but she can listen, not many of us take the time to listen carefully to others even if, like Catherine we do not understand. Throughout this story one feels the special bond between father and his precious daughter.
Why I liked this: The first thing that attracted me to this story was the love this father had for his daughter, which brought tears to my eyes (not having seen or spoken to my own father since my teens) it touched me greatly. This is Genevieve’s first Picture book and she has done a wonderful job of making us want to turn the page to learn more about Catherine. A “Note” in the back of the book refers to Genevieve’s niece whom Catherine is based on, who suffered from a kind of epilepsy known as infantile spasms or West Syndrome, which left her profoundly and multiply learning disabled. She is unable to walk, talk or perform any normal daily living activities including feeding or dressing herself. Karen Littlewood from England’s beautiful painted illustrations are well researched with authentic expressions of a little girl in a world of her own. This is a lovely story of “hope”.
Resources/Links: A couple of blogs I found give research, advice and support groups to parents….. http://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/GARD/Condition/7887/West_syndrome.aspx
The following website has some links for living with epilepsy and resources..
A lovely Blog with wonderful reviews of Books dealing in coping with Disabilities within the family, and researched resource links is …. http://childrensbooksheal.com/
For more books with resources please visit the lovely author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog and find the tab for Perfect Picture Books. Her blog is full of resources links and activities associated with the books reviewed by many authors.