Best Friend on Wheels

Best Friend on Wheels

4.5 2
by Debra Shirley, Judy Stead
     
 

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In second grade, Mrs. Poole asks our narrator to show the new girl around school. Imagine the surprise when our narrator first meets Sarah—Sarah uses a wheelchair! For a moment, our narrator feels awkward. Then she sees a button Sarah wears. It says “Rockhound” on it.
 
“Do you collect rocks?” Sarah says she does! “So… See more details below

Overview


In second grade, Mrs. Poole asks our narrator to show the new girl around school. Imagine the surprise when our narrator first meets Sarah—Sarah uses a wheelchair! For a moment, our narrator feels awkward. Then she sees a button Sarah wears. It says “Rockhound” on it.
 
“Do you collect rocks?” Sarah says she does! “So do I,” says our narrator. And soon it’s clear that these new friends are more alike than different. They scrapbook, draw cartoons, and even go hot-air ballooning.
 
Lively verse and bright pictures celebrate this very close friendship.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

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.)

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Children's Literature - Wendy M. Smith-D'Arezzo
Simple line drawings painted with colorful pastels illustrate the story of Sarah and her best friend. Told in first person from the point of view of Sarah's unnamed friend, rhyming couplets advance the story. When she first met Sarah, the narrator was hesitant to befriend the new girl; the wheelchair made her feel that she might say or do the wrong thing: "I wanted to get a good look at her chair,/ but I felt like a jerk, so I tried not to stare." But once she got past her initial embarrassment, she realized that she and Sarah had so much in common that they were destined to be best friends. Lively and quick, the color and fast tempo gloss over the didactic message. While most books about children with disabilities ignore the way others react, this one calls attention to the discomfort the narrator felt when they first met. It also gives examples of others treating Sarah differently because of the wheelchair—until a common connection helps to make Sarah a real person. A teacher or parent can use this as an opportunity to discuss the feelings we all have when confronted with something unfamiliar. The only thing that could make this a more effective tool would be to have a few of the pages told from Sarah's point of view. It would give children a chance to see how Sarah feels when people focus on the chair, ignoring her as a person. Reviewer: Wendy M. Smith-D'Arezzo
School Library Journal

K-Gr 3- A rhyming text looks at two friends who share good times. It begins with a list of interests they share, and the colorful cartoon illustrations delightfully capture them in their favorite activities-reading, playing Frisbee, eating pizza (both pick off the peppers). It's not until several pages into the book that Sarah's wheelchair is revealed. Then the narrator flashes back to the day her second-grade teacher suggested that she show the new girl around. "When I saw she was using a wheelchair, I froze..../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." Children will identify with these feelings. The girls find something in common to begin a conversation-they are both "rock hounds." The rhyme moves quickly yet touches on many aspects of life for people in wheelchairs-the rude reactions, getting into bed, and children's normal activities. The artwork conveys the same positive fun as the text. The book's lesson is evident without being didactic; the story focuses on real friendship, not the disability. The narrator sums it up: "It's odd that the moment I met her I'm sure/I saw only the wheelchair..../but now I see Sarah first-and she's cool!" This is an excellent addition that will work for groups as well as individual reading.-Carolyn Janssen, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH

Kirkus Reviews
Shirley celebrates friendship and helps dispel many misconceptions about life in a wheelchair. Best friends like many of the same things and these two girls are no different. They adore peach pie and Frisbee and pizza without the peppers. They first met in second grade when the teacher asks the rhyming narrator to show the new girl around. When she sees that the new pig-tailed student is in a wheelchair, her unease is such that she fidgets and stammers. Then she sees the badge that says, "ROCKHOUND." Quickly, discomfort vanishes as the girls bubble with enthusiasm over their shared interest. As their friendship grows she learns that, though the wheelchair clearly changes her friend's life, her personality still shines through. They can still stay up late at sleepovers and even dance: "She spins on her wheels and twirls every which way." She learns that it's mostly others who feel uncomfortable and have difficulty seeing past the wheelchair to the person. Stead's energetic illustrations add to the atmosphere of exuberance with bright yellows and pinks and the pure delight shining from the girl's faces. (Picture book. 4-8)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781497644304
Publisher:
Whitman, Albert & Company
Publication date:
05/13/2014
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
32
Sales rank:
792,729
File size:
14 MB
Note:
This product may take a few minutes to download.
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

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