IBBY Review: Max the Champion by Sean Stockdale, Alexandra Strick and Ros Asquith

Max the Champion, written by Sean Stockdale and Alexandra Strick, illustrated by Ros Asquith (Frances Lincoln, 2013)

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:

Max the Champion
written by Sean Stockdale and Alexandra Strick, illustrated by Ros Asquith
(Frances Lincoln, 2013)

ISBN 978-1-84780-519-5

Reviewed by Debora Pearson*

A diverse group of children, many with disabilities, all interact with each other in this exuberant picture book. At the centre of their world is their sports-loving friend and classmate Max, who, as sharp-eyed readers will notice, uses an asthma inhaler and wears a hearing aid. The cartoon-style artwork captures the cheerful mood of Max’s community and the ease with which the characters relate to each other. The text makes no mention of anything to do with disabilities and no one is singled out for special attention. In choosing this approach, this book models inclusivity at its best: a physical world and a mindset where affability and acceptance are always present and differences do not need to be emphasized.

*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.


Max the Champion‘s co-author Alexandra Strick is a founder, along with Beth Cox, of UK-based Inclusive Minds.


  1. That’s exactly how books on children with disabilities should be – the focus shouldn’t be on their disability. This one sounds like a wonderful read.

    • I so agree that children need books like this, where the focus is on the children not the disability – while acknowledging the disability as a fact of any given character’s life… Sometimes, I think, we need to focus on the disability too, but individually and without stereotyping…

  2. Growing up I used to be so embarrassed of my asthma, it made me feel like such a weirdo. I would’ve loved to have stories like this!

  3. Really sounds like a wonderful book – thanks for the IBBY link too! Definitely one to add to my round-up of diverse book awards. Thanks! #diversekidlit

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