Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Katrina and Winter: Partners in Courage by Nancy Stewart

Katrina and Winter:  Partners in Courage, by Nancy Stewart, is the true story of a girl born with a birth defect that could have limited her life activities, but hasn’t. 
Katrina, fitted with a prosthetic leg, learns to walk with a limp.  She is self-conscious about walking in front of people.  On a vacation trip, she meets Winter, a rescued dolphin with a stump of a tail.  Like Katrina and her ”helper” leg, Winter wears a prosthetic tail and learns to swim with therapy.  Katrina is drawn to this fellow disabled creature and takes away a life-changing lesson from Winter’s example.  Katrina vows to be strong and courageous like Wiaboutnter, and live her life as fully as possible.

Throughout the story, whenever Katrina falters or doubts herself, she remembers that Winter never quits and she mustn’t either.  Katrina sets and achieves goals that are difficult for kids with two natural legs.  She joins the Jump Rope Club, and masters “Double-Dutch.”  She overcomes her fear of public viewing to make an educational video with Winter.  Katrina joins the 4-H Club.  Her accomplishments mount ever higher:  gymnastics group, modeling school, horseback riding, voice lessons, song writing.  She realizes that she can accomplish whatever challenge she sets for herself. 

Katrina is an inspiration to anyone with disabilities.  She is a role model for special needs kids and anyone who needs to see that problems and handicaps can be overcome.  She vows to help other people as she has been helped.  She volunteers at local charities and rides in Shriner’s Benefit Horse Shows.  Wherever she goes, whatever she does, Katrina never forgets Winter, the special dolphin who inspired her to be strong and courageous.

This wonderful true story is sure to be appreciated by anyone with seen and unseen handicaps and disabilities.  It is a perfect book for teachers and parents to show kids what hard work and dedication can achieve.  The personal photos present Katrina and Winter in real life scenes.  When we see them, we are reminded that if “we think we can,” we are on the way to success and can make our own dreams come true.  Thank you to Nancy Stewart for bringing us this inspirational story of love, courage, and determination in the face of adversity.

Available through Guardian Angel Publishing:

Monday, May 14, 2012

Buster Bear and Uncle B by J.Aday Kennedy, art by Marina Movshina

Buster Bear and Uncle B by J. Aday Kennedy, with art by Marina Movshina, is a special story by a “differently-abled” author.  This book is a uplifting as well as entertaining.  It shows how love and faith conquer disability.  

Ham's beloved Uncle B became paralyzed in the war.  He's come to visit his nephew Ham, who is shocked by Uncle B's appearance.  Confined to a wheelchair, Uncle B could have become bitter and limited by his condition.  But he isn't.  He plays with Ham, just as before.  Uncle B shows off his "wheelie" prowess and his skills in wheelchair basketball.  But the best moment in the story is when Ham climbs onto Uncle B's lap and gives him a great big hug, just like old times.  This story reminds us not to give up hope in the face of adversity and disability.   It shows that people we love are the same inwardly even if their outward appearance changes.
This is a story of love and faith triumphing over disability.  Uncle B isn't angry at God for his paralysis.  In accepting his situation, Uncle B shows his nephew that love and faith are much stronger than any disability.  Through the strong bond of their loving relationship, Ham and Uncle B will find new ways to enjoy each other and share good times together.  The message is universal:  love means hope and acceptance. 

The art by Marina Movshina is wonderfully expressive.  You clearly see Ham as a happy boy living in a loving family that includes his beloved Uncle B.  Even though disabled, Uncle B maintains his positive outlook and shares that with his nephew.  It's a moving story.  We feel and see the love and joy in J. Aday Kennedy's positive words and Marina Movshina's beautiful illustrations.

This story has special meaning for me, since my youngest nephew survived a near-fatal motorcycle accident that left him an amputee with extensive nerve damage on his good right side.  He was determined to walk and swim and he does.  He was determined to work and live a full life and he is.  

J. Aday Kennedy's paralysis hasn't dampened her spirit or limited her creativity.  She has included a K-3 Teacher’s Guide to address disability issues presented in her book.  She continues to bring us wonderful books about love, determination, acceptance, and hope.  She shows us that our appearance isn’t all that we are.  I recommend this book wholeheartedly.

 Available through Guardian Angel Publishing: