Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Book Musings: Follow my Leader

Follow My Leader

All right, we all know how anti-issues book I am. But here's the thing: I have a theory that issue books are necessary at times. They're the groundbreakers. The topics become acceptable so other authors can take them and run. And sometimes it's good to have a book that presents the facts of an issue in a way kids can understand.

Follow My Leader was one of those books I just discovered on the shelves as a kid. I wasn't looking for it in particular. I read it dozens of times. Yes, the character (Jimmy Carter!)'s biggest obstacle is that he becomes blind. The book deals with learning to walk with a cane, how he gets his guide dog etc. But it also deals with him learning to become one of the guys again, getting the best of bullies and going on to live his life like everyone else.

The author was blind for over half his life, and I think the veracity adds to the text. For me, as someone with low vision for whom blindness is a very real fear, it was a little comforting. I use some of the tricks Jimmy is taught when I don't have my glasses.

The book is a work of its time, first published in 1958 I'd call it groundbreaking. Jimmy remains mainstreamed after all, once he has gone through rehabilitation to learn to move through the world. It also fits the bill of four questions for disability-related books. The disability isn't cured, Jimmy does have other traits (he's a boy scout!), other struggles and I don't have many nitpick except for the dialogue and that's only because it's VERY 1958.

Definitely deserves a place on the disability bookshelf.

Incidentally, not THAT James Garfield. Also not THAT Jimmy Carter


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