IBBY Review: Roses Are Blue by Sally Murphy and Gabriel Evans

Roses Are Blue, written by Sally Murphy, illustrated by Gabriel Evans (Walker Books Australia, 2014) - IBBY Oustanding Books For and About Children with Disabilities

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:

Roses Are Blue
written by Sally Murphy, illustrated by Gabriel Evans
(Walker Books Australia, 2014)
ISBN 978-1-922244-37-6

Reviewed by Debora Pearson*

In this verse novel for young readers, narrator Amber Rose struggles to reconcile the two sharply-divided parts of her life: before and after a terrible accident. Prior to the accident, Amber’s home life was a normal one with a loving mother who enjoyed gardening, painting and being with her family. Post-accident, life is utterly different: her mother, who was severely injured in a car crash, is now confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak clearly, feed or dress herself.

As Amber begins the uneven process of adjusting to the painful realities of her family’s new life, she also looks for small but meaningful ways to reconnect with her mother again. The short lines of verse, along with Amber’s clear-eyed observations about herself and others, make this book accessible to readers who are interested in stories with serious content but who may not be quite ready to tackle full-length novels.

The soft, watercolour and ink illustrations capture the mood of quiet hope that binds family members together in spite of the adversity they have encountered. At the same time, the illustrator does not shy away from depicting the full extent of the physical changes and limitations that Amber’s mother must cope with.

*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.

Visit the Collection’s website to find out more, including how to visit.


  1. Thanks so much for this thoughtful review.

  2. I confess that I was unfamiliar with the IBBY books and appreciate learning about them. As a coach to adoptive families, many of whom adopt children with special needs, this is an excellent and much-needed resource. Great post!

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