Maria Shriver offers a compassionate platform for discussion with this well-written story about disabilities. Influenced and inspired by her parent's involvement with the Special Olympics, as well as her husband's devotion to the cause, Shriver writes a tender tale about accepting others for who they are.
Kate is a young a curious girl, always inquiring about those things she does not understand. When she meets a boy in the park who looks and acts differently, she asks her mom, "What's wrong with Timmy?" Her mom calmly and clearly tells her that people are different: "Timmy is a child with special needs, and he takes longer to learn than you." But Kate's mom emphasizes that the two kids have more in common that people might think. Kate and Timmy are formally introduced, and while Kate initially feels uncomfortable, she realizes that they can be friends. Including Timmy in a basketball game with some leery friends, Kate shows her true colors as a friend. She vows that if anybody asks, "What's wrong with Timmy?" she'll simply tell them, "Why, nothing...nothing at all!"
Shriver's gentle language evokes the style of her first children's book, "What's Heaven?" Words are carefully chosen and should offer parents a guideline for how to deal with Kate's tough questions. A phrase on each page, usually summing up the corresponding illustration, appears in bold, large, type, perfectly sized for young readers.
Pastel illustrations by Sandra Speidel add a warm and dreamy element to the story, providing a cozy environment in which to foster discussion. Speidel also illustrated What's Heaven? and the Shriver/Speidel team seems to work wonderfully.
Maria Shriver is a well-known media personality, poised and professional, with a large dose of spirit and a big heart. Following the initial success of her first children's book, this endearing story promises us that we are sure to see more from this talented mother and author in the future. (Amy Barkat)
Editor's Note: This title is also available in a Spanish-language edition, ¿Qué le pasa a Timmy?