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A worthy message does not redeem the forced storyline and flat illustrations in this book about two girls, one of whom is wheelchair-bound. On the first spreads, the narrator lists the ways she and her best friend, Sarah, are alike; both are seen only from the waist up until the narrator acknowledges, "We're different in one way-she uses a wheelchair./ She rolls and I walk when we want to go somewhere." Rhymed couplets chronicle the story of their friendship, beginning with their first meeting: "I was so nervous, I stammered and stuttered./ I might say the wrong thing, I thought-so I muttered./ I wanted to get a good look at her chair,/ but I felt like a jerk, so I tried not to stare." Then the narrator notices that Sarah is wearing a "Rock Hound" button and she "yelp[s] with delight!" as she also collects rocks. This episode prefigures a similarly strained scene with an ice cream vendor who ignores Sarah until she notices Sarah's "I (heart) my finches" button, whereupon she announces that she owns 20 birds and is instantly at ease. This book protests too much to convince anyone. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.