When 8-year-old Kate meets a boy who seems somehow different, she feels funny inside. After talking with her mom, though, Kate begins to understand that Timmy is just like her in many ways. Timmy has special needs; he takes longer to learn than Kate, and can't walk or run as well. But he also "loves his family, he wants friends, he goes to school, and he dreams about what he wants to be when he grows up." Kate and Timmy meet, and the seeds of a friendship are planted.
For all those children who ask their parents why someone looks or acts "different," author and journalist Maria Shriver's What's Wrong with Timmy? provides a base for discussion. Kate's mother models appropriate behavior, speaking to her daughter calmly and directly, and providing examples from her own life to help Kate understand about Timmy. Illustrator Sandra Speidel's soft, intentionally hazy pastels are lovely; bold, enlarged phrases on the opposite pages of text act as captions. Shriver and Speidel collaborated previously on the tremendously popular What's Heaven?, also starring Kate and her mother. (Ages 4 to 8) --Emilie Coulter
From School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-This brief book tells of the meeting in the park between an eight-year-old girl and the "mentally retarded" son of her mother's friend. The writer describes Timmy as someone who "looked different" and has a face that seems "flatter" than other children's. Kate asks her mother about the boy and learns that he is her age and was born with disabilities. The children discover that they like the same things at school, recess and sports, and don't like math. After a game of basketball with her friends, Timmy and Kate make a play date. The warm pastel illustrations support the theme of acceptance of all people no matter their differences. However, the little girl's questions and actions are quite mature for her age. The lack of paragraphs might be a bit confusing to young readers, and the intermittent use of bold-faced, larger-sized type is a bit disruptive, although its purpose seems to be to highlight the theme. The book reads well, though, and would be a good introduction for youngsters welcoming a disabled child into their school or neighborhood.
Margaret C. Howell, West Springfield Elementary School, VA
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