Merritt portrays Daniel as helpful, cheerful, and strong of character, fending off bullies and devoted to his friends and family. The revelation at the end of the story is that Charlie is in a wheelchair, the result of an unnamed disease. When Charlie reads his essay in front of the class, he declares that Daniel is his hero, saying, “He sticks up for me and treats me like I’m just a normal kid.” Merritt highlights that children can learn to be respectful, accepting, and kind to others who may have physical limitations.
Illustrator Oliver Kryzz Bundoc uses simple drawings boldly colored to show the happy children active at school and at play. Bundoc uses subtle hints to deftly incorporate Charlie’s wheelchair into the scenes. Occasional discontinuity might confuse some readers, such as when the text mentions peanut-butter crackers while the illustration depicts chocolate-chip cookies, and the story at times is wordy. Still, the important message about showing people with disabilities understanding and kindness is imparted with clarity and warmth, and the book will resonate with parents teaching their children life lessons.
Takeaway: Parents will find the lesson of treating people with a disability with respect and kindness valuable.
Great for fans of: Aneta Cruz’s Juan Has the Jitters, Bob Sornson’s Stand in My Shoes.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: A