Friday, April 04, 2008

In Jesse's Shoes

As an adoptive mother of "special needs" children, Beverly Lewis knows about the complicated lifestyle that accompanies their afflictions. In "Jesse's Shoes", she writes as one who has been on the inside, hoping to do just as the subtitle says: bring "appreciation (to) kids with special needs". After all, they are not weird. Just different.

Tell that to Allie. Allie is Jesse's sister in this fictional childrens story. She struggles with her emotions in dealing with Jesse's special needs. It's not that she minds, but she is weary of other children teasing her and Jesse. Their teasing causes her to be embarrased of Jesse and then she feels bad that she feels embarrased. It is confusing to her until her Dad suggests that one can not understand what it's like to be another until you walk in their shoes. And that is where she finds understanding. In Jesse's shoes.

A brilliant eye opener that even adults will find compelling. The Jesse's of the world can teach the "normal" ones a thing or two if we could just listen. And the probability of knowing a Jesse is on the rise. With the rate of autism increasing, the chances of one knowing someone with special needs, autistic or otherwise, is almost guaranteed. Which is why this book is a must.

Not to take away from Lewis, Laura Nikiel excels at illustrating the book. Her life like drawings add to the non-fiction tone, creating a realistic scenerio. Her hand brings Jesse and Allie to life. They become the kids down the street.

Moms, save the lecture on how to treat those less fortunate with compassion. Lewis gives us the glasses that brings into focus what being "special needs" means. It means you are special. Special in a unique and gifted way. And that's really all there is to it.