I Am Not My Disability: Outstanding Books For and About Young People with Disabilities
Every two years, the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) chooses outstanding books for and about young people with disabilities. This biennial selection draws attention to books published around the world that address special needs and situations and which encourage inclusion at every level. Outstanding titles, including the one below, become part of The IBBY Collection of Books for Young People with Disabilities. This one-of-a-kind collection is located in Canada at North York Central Library, part of the Toronto Public Library system.
Here is one of the titles from the 2015 list, which also won the Costa Children’s Book Award in 2012 and the Carnegie Medal in 2013.
Reviewed by Debora Pearson*
In one hundred short chapters, some as brief as half a page, teenager Standish Treadwell recounts his difficult life in the Motherland, the war-ravaged, dystopian world where he lives. Although he is fifteen years old, Standish cannot read, write or even spell his own name; he must hide his dyslexia (an “impurity” according to the authorities) or face a violent death.
Standish’s bleak and often brutal existence is brightened by his best friend, Hector, who sees Standish’s underlying intelligence and encourages him to stand up against the tyranny that surrounds them. When Standish stumbles upon a hoax the government is about to stage, one that directly compromises his friend’s life, he decides to step out from the shadows and take action. Standish’s sharp eye for details, along with his ability to make sense of things that others cannot understand, help him devise a plan with consequences that are both heroic and heartbreaking.
The author, who shares Standish’s dyslexia, has created a compelling character who is believable in both his so-called limitations and particular talents.
*Debora Pearson is a children’s librarian at North York Central Library, part of the Toronto Public Library system, where The IBBY Collection of Books for Young People with Disabilities is located. Debora works with Leigh Turina, the lead librarian for this collection, and helps promote the collection through social media. She also conducts IBBY collection visits for school classes and youth groups, provides reference support, and assists with the compilation of the collection’s biennial list of outstanding titles.
This review is © Toronto Public Library, 2016.
Read An Introduction to the IBBY Collection for Young People with Disabilities by lead librarian Leigh Turina.
Read MWD’s monthly reviews of books from the Collection.