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Summary: Because of his injuries in a car accident, Tommy now used a wheelchair. Still, he had a full life. He went to school and often went down to the pier to play catch with Stanley, a dolphin. One day, as Tommy was heading to the beach, three bullies started to pick on Tommy, and ended up pushing Tommy into the ocean. Thankfully, Stanley was there to help. But would it be enough? This story about a young boy in a wheel chair offers lessons about friendship, family, bullies, and tragedy.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, anytime reading, family reading, playtime reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 5 to 10; read yourself: 7 to 10
Interest Level: 5 to 9
Age of Child: Read by an 8-year-old girl.
Young Reader Reaction: We had to nudge our daughter to read it word-for-word and not skip pages. She complained that there was too much text ... and she didn't like "the mean boys" and didn't want to read about them.
Adult Reader Reaction: This is an important story, with great potential. Tommy presents himself as a positive person, without regard to his disability. Unfortunately, there are pieces of the story that just get "dropped in," leaving the reader to wonder about their relevance. For example, Tommy suddenly had a hard day concentrating at school because he got a new ball. There is no context as to why he got a new ball. His birthday? the other one popped? The "new" really bears no relevance to the story. This is a story with characters who could be "built out" a little more to make it a masterpiece.
Pros: This picture book presents a very positive, heartwarming story, particularly for children facing disabilities. This is a great read one-on-one with a child or in a classroom setting.
Cons: Given the pervasiveness of bullying, a short Q&A or ideas for dealing with bullies would be a nice way to continue the discussion, particularly for children with disabilities and their siblings.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. This is a very valuable story for children. Although Tommy didn't have sibling, this is a book that would resonate with kids whose brother or sister is disabled.
Educational Themes: It is the unfortunate reality of the bullies that give the story one of the key elements of its message. There are plenty of things to talk about after reading this book: compassion, empathy, bullying (and what it does), responsibility, friendship, and heroism.
Notes: Also available as downloadable eBook from lulu.com