A review of a book for younger readers on the topic of disability.
Kelly Fritsch (author); Anne McGuire (author); Eduardo Trejos (illustrator)
Publisher: AK Press
Released: April 6, 2021
A month ago Dr. Suess Enterprises took the decision to stop publishing six books. These include a number you may not be familiar with such as “If I Ran the Zoo” and “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street”. The reason for the decision was that these contain racist and insensitive imagery. These efforts should be encouraged. Likewise newly written and published works by others that try to raise awareness of important social issues among a young readership.
One freshly published book is ‘We Move Together’. It looks at the issue of disability from the point of view found in a quotation by Aurora Levins Morales and Patty Berne, which acts as a foreword:
“All bodies are unique and essential. All bodies are whole.
All bodies have strengths and needs that must be met.
We are powerful not despite the complexities of our bodies,
But because of them. We move together, with no body
Left behind. This is disability justice.”
Given its brevity, it would be unfair to go into too much detail about the content of this book. Let’s just say that it is bursting with an exuberant palette. It employs effective use of perspective in the drawings and is full of visual detail but not to the extent that it looks like a page from ‘Where’s Wally?”. The inclusion of characters in the book is carefully considered. They are from a range of species, sexualities, ethnicities, religions, ages, types, and levels of disability. One aspect of the book that reinforces this inclusiveness is in the text. It consistently adopts the first person plural pronoun a.k.a ‘we’ when making its points. This feels very comforting. Nobody and no body is privileged over anyone else, so there are no betrayals in its portrayals.
The back contains a useful section titled ‘Ideas and Illustrations: A Closer Look’. This goes into greater detail about some of the concerns and topics that are alluded to briefly in the main part of the volume. It is definitely worth a read if you have felt sufficiently inspired by the central portion of the book.
In keeping with the desire not to exclude, there is no recommended reading age indicated anywhere. Yes, by the nature of what it is, it probably should still be considered essential for the younger among us, but anyone with an open attitude will find something affirming within its pages.
‘We Move Together’ is a welcome addition to your personal library or would make a great gift.