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My Feelings

My Feelings

My Feelings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Feelings

Sarah Jennings

Bloomsbury 2016

14pp., board book, RRP $A12.99

9781408869048

Helping children understand and cope with their feelings in an appropriate way is such an important part of helping them grow and be able to socialise effectively.  So this deceptively simple book is such a gift for the early childhood teacher or the parents of little ones.

It explores the feelings of happiness, sadness, anxiety, grumpiness, excitement, fear and shyness in a way that will really help the reader come to grips with all the emotions that fill their day.  Each page has a tab that shows its focus feeling and starts with “When you feel…” so it talks directly to the child.  Each page validates the feeling  (so it’s OK to be shy) and then offers some suggestions for managing it. So if you are excited you can jump up and down or tell a friend; while if you’re grumpy you can do something you love, huff and puff or imagine a jelly bath!! Several times “Tell someone” is the suggestion which is great advice but it’s balanced with actions that the child can do not only to overcome the immediate situation but also build their strategies and resilience. 

John Joseph  has written much about how our emotions colour and shape our responses to a given situation, particularly the effect that the chemicals that are whizzing around our brains at the time have on us…”Depending on the extent of the situation, the capacity of sensory information and rational thinking to get processed is weakened, severely in extreme cases. Each particular emotion activates a series of memories and physical responses, inhibiting the flow of some chemicals and creating surges with others.”  He talks about the “emotional rooms’ – blue, green, orange and red – what happens in each and how how we manage that not only shapes the moment but also the ultimate effect on our personality. “Those who spend hours on end in a negative Orange Room find it difficult to break depressing thought patters. Those who move into Red with little provocation are unpredictable, prone to violence and struggle to make and sustain relationships with others.”

While that may seem a bit deep and meaningful for a board book written for toddlers, it demonstrates the importance of helping little ones learn about their emotions – positive and negative – and how they can manage them, self-soothe and self-calm healthily and move on.  This book is a first-step in that process and an integral part of any investigation about ‘Being Me” and “Being a Friend’. Let them talk and illustrate about when they feel happy, excited, scared or what they worry about and then brainstorm the sorts of things they can do to help them manage those feelings appropriately.  Help them learn that different situations often require different responses. It could even serve as a lead-in to your Protective Behaviours / or other personal safety program you use in your school.

Deceptively simple but highly effective.

Butterfly and Oscar

Butterfly and Oscar

Butterfly and Oscar

Butterfly and Oscar

Tricia Oktober

Ford Street, 2014

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.95

9781925000511

Old Dog, Mousie, Polly, Isa Blue and Oscar are five dachshunds who live in a beautiful garden owned by a lady who collects plants and dogs.  Theirs is a peaceful, placid life with each having its own personality and spending their days literally living a dog’s life.  Even the magpies are not afraid to come and look for worms as the dogs snooze in the sun.  

But one day, the owner brings another dog home – one called Butterfly, one who is not like the long, low, smooth dachshunds.  Rather this one has longer legs, short ears and a squashed in face. And she isn’t even the same gingery colour – she is white with black bits here and there.  But this doesn’t bother Oscar who is very affectionate – to him this newcomer is just another puppy who needs to be kept warm and safe at night; who needs her face washed after dinner because she is such a messy eater; and who needs to learn that shredding teddies and pulling plants out of the garden are not the right things to do.

Everything is fine in the household until one night Butterfly sees another dog outside, one that barks when she does and growls right back at her.  The other dogs come to her rescue and make enough noise to scare anything away but the new dog just stands there barking right back at them. Night after night the new dog comes to the window and nothing Butterfly can do scares it away.  She gets more and more scared until something has to be done – so the owner puts a mirror where Butterfly can see her reflection, but suddenly it seems that outside dog had come inside and Butterfly is even more terrified.  When she finally realises that she is seeing herself for the first time, she calms down a little – until she realises that she isn’t long and sleek like Old Dog, Mousie, Polly, Isa Blue and Oscar.  She is very different  so instead of being scared, she is now unhappy and feels very alone and isolated. Nothing cheers her up until…

Tricia Oktober always writes the most charming stories that are illustrated with her exquisite, lifelike drawings and Butterfly and Oscar is no exception.  Given that it is dedicated to her dogs, all eight of them, suggests that this story might be based on real life and it is the mark of a true storyteller that they can take an ordinary event like a dog seeing its reflection for the first time and turn it into a book that enchants and teaches through its gentle message that each of us is different but it’s not what we look like that counts but what we do.  However, while we are loved for who we are, sometimes being the newcomer can make us feel like an outsider and that no one will accept us.  There are excellent teaching notes  which will help students not only empathise with these feelings if they haven’t experienced them but also help them understand that difference is not always negative and how they can reach out to someone and bring them into the circle.

Miss 5 is going through a “dog phase”  – she is going to love having this in her collection if I overcome my love of Tricia Oktober’s work and actually let her have it!

The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee

The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee

The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee

Deborah Abela

Random House Australia, 2016

232pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781925324822

Things have been tough in the tiny town of Yungabilla, and particularly so for the Wimple family since mum gave up her teaching job to homeschool Boo because of his asthma and Dad lost his as a journalist when the local newspaper closed down and he’s now got his own handyman business. But they are a close-knit family with Dad’s eternal optimism steering them through the roughest times, Mum’s patience and calming influence keeping everyone on track and Nanna Flo’s pragmatism keeping them grounded Every Friday night they gather around the television to watch The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee with India Wimple successfully spelling every word along with the contestants.  So when host Philomena Spright looks straight down the camera lens exhorting children to enter the new series, India feels she is speaking directly to her.

Which is all very well because spelling really tricky words is not India’s problem – it’s her shyness and the family’s pecuniary problems that are bigger hurdles.  When she was younger and had the starring role in the school play, she was all set to go but just as she stepped on stage she saw a couple of people leaving and realised it was her mum and dad hurrying her young brother Boo outside to deal with another major asthma attack.  She lost her lines and her confidence in public at that moment but gained a loud voice in her head that constantly fuels her self-doubt and her fear that it would happen again. It pops up all the time suggesting that it’s impossible for one as ordinary as her to achieve a dream  So, at first she tells her family that she can’t enter and despite their protestations she sticks to her decisions.  But that night she sees Dad smile, something that is rare these days, so so that she can see that smile again, she agrees to have a go.

And so the scene is set for a most heart-warming, spirit-lifting story of a family and a community getting together to overcome all sorts of obstacles and hardships to make the dream come true.  This is not just about India- the whole town needs this, if only to prove that kids from the back of beyond are just as clever and polished as city kids and their own children can have the future they want.

Much has to be done to help India build her confidence and self-belief, just as much has to be done to find the money to get her to the heats and the final.  There are all sorts of contestants including the super-confident as well as  pushy parents to contend with, without even thinking of words that most of her age won’t have heard of, let alone use or understand (even when they are in a sentence!) It’s a story that we’re seeing playing on television all day at the moment, as our Olympic competitors from all sorts of backgrounds, overcome all the odds and realise their dream of being an Olympian. Even the contestants in the tremendously popular television program The Great Australian Spelling Bee will now come to life and be more like the real kids they know.  And while for Olympian, television contestant and India alike the prize is the goal, it’s also about the journey and what they learn along the way that is the most important.

This is an inspirational story that would make a great read-aloud and a wonderful read-alone at any time but particularly at this time or at the beginning of the year as we encounter students with all sorts of concerns about what hurdles they will have to leap as a new phase unfolds and fears have to be faced. Striving for a dream, using the support of those around you, taking one step at a time, believing in yourself and allowing obstacles to become opportunities is a  message that our young need to hear, especially when they seem to be surrounded by ‘instant success” and live in a world of ‘instant gratification’. 

Adding to the story is the introduction of each chapter… a particular word is featured, it’s definition and part of speech and just like in the competition it is used in a sentence.  This prepares the reader for what is to come, building personal vocabulary and understanding in the best way as we read on to see how it plays out.  Daunting, valorous, imperious, calamitous and skulduggery all come to life!

Deborah Abela has written a most profound book, very different from much that is available to younger readers today, and created not only an engaging, what-happens-next story but one built around a family who will be readily recognisable by readers.  If Miss 10 were to adopt India Wimple as her role model, I would be more than happy.

Copy Cat

Copy Cat

Copy Cat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copy Cat

Ali Pye

Nosy Crow, 2016

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780857636812

Bella loves Anna so much that she wants to be just like her – so much so that she copies everything Anna does.  Whether it’s playing with the hula hoop, being a ballerina or a pirate, Bella is right there being Anna’s mirror.  But trouble erupts when Anna decides to be a princess and Bella copies her as usual, but there is just one crown…  Anna gets very cross and tells Bella to stop copying her and goes off to play be herself. 

At first Bella is sad because she has no one to copy and no one to play with – and then she discovers a skipping rope in her toybox.  And as she practises and practises, Chloe looks on wishing she could skip too.

“It’s easy!” said Bella.  “Just copy me!” 

And then Anna comes looking for Bella…

Even though this story stars three cats, it could quite easily focus on three children in the playground so well does it reflect the different dynamics of friendships and activities as they ebb and flow.  Told with a lot of repetitive text that invites the young reader to join in, it not only engages them that but also opens up opportunities to talk about friendships and how to make and maintain them.  The eye-catching, colourful illustrations add an extra dimension to this well-told tale that is perfect for early childhood readers who enjoy something a little different. 

Little Why

Little Why

Little Why

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Why

Jonny Lambert

Little Tiger Press, 2016

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781848691834

 

Tucked in the back, in-between the legs of the elder elephants, Little Why is supposed to walk in line and stay out of harm’s way.  But it is a big, new world out there with lots of new things to see.  Things such as Wildebeest’s spiny-spiky special horns.

“Wow!” he gasps.  I need some spiny-spiky special horns like those!.  I would look super-duper scary!  I would charge this way and that.  Could I have some spiny-spiky special horns?”

“No”, he is told and ordered back into line.  But it’s hard to stay in line when you spot a giraffe with long-lofty leggy legs that would be good for reaching the highest leaves, or a cheetah with speedy-spotty, fuzzy fur or a crocodile with a snippy-snazzy snout!  Even a near miss doesn’t stop him but he does stay in line, even though he has the sulks…

This is a charming variation on a common theme of stories for little children – that they are special and perfect just the way they are – but Little Why with his constant asking of “Why?’ is so resonant of a young pre-schooler that is has instant appeal.  And who hasn’t fallen in love with images of baby elephants waddling in and out of their parents’ legs as they take their first steps.  The illustrations are detailed and their collage-like structure gives them texture and depth, with the expressions bringing the animals and text to life. There is also the added detail of two little insects to discover on each page as well as Little Why’s constant companion, a little blue bird who keeps a careful eye on him. Little ones will appreciate the perspective of Little Why looking up at the world, just as they do.

This is another story that, as well as having having that oft-used theme that is essential to a healthy self-esteem and sense of self-worth , has the sort of language, rhythm and repetition that little listeners love and delight in exploring for themselves. 

Penelope Perfect: The Truly Terrible Mistake

Penelope Perfect: The Truly Terrible Mistake

Penelope Perfect: The Truly Terrible Mistake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Penelope Perfect: The Truly Terrible Mistake

Chrissie Perry

Hardie Grant Egmont, 2016

144pp., pbk., RRP $A14.95

9781760120276

Penelope Kingston (aka Penelope Perfect) has made a terrible mistake.  When she answered the questions on the maths test, she missed five of them on the back of the page!!  Not only does that mean she might not get an A  on her report card (and thus the admiration and another $20 from her absent father) but she has also received the same mark as Joanna, the “naughty girl’ in the class who is much more adept at blowing spitballs than academics.  Penelope is devastated, especially when Ms Pike refuses to let her take the test again!

But she sees a way to redeem her grades (which seem to be her motivation and on which her entire self-worth is based) through excelling in the drama competition instead.  In fact she has already written a play that will put them ahead of the other groups, but then her drama teacher Mr Salmon mixes up the groups and instead of her usual crew, Penelope now has Joanna in her group – and Joanna most definitely has her own ideas!

Penelope turns to her beloved grandfather for advice – as she often does, particularly when she feels the loud, bossy, angry twin of her Gemini personality rising – and he gives her the cryptic message to “colour outside the lines”.  So will she be able to work as a team member and shine in the play or will her wilfulness and need to be perfect (in her eyes) destroy all her relationships? Is even her new best friend Bob deserting her?

Girls from Years 2-6 will be able to empathise with the plights of the characters in this story, whether they are a Penelope, a Joanna, or a peace-maker Bob.  Personally, I would have liked to have seen Penelope get a greater understanding of the reasons behind Joanna’s behaviours, but perhaps that just me with my adult-teacher hat on, and not seeing things through the eyes of Miss 10 who was eager to re-read the series and then devoured this new one on her recent visit.  I reviewed the first three earlier this year and it says a lot about how they resonated with Miss Now-10 that as she dug through the pile of new books on her bed, that this was her first choice to read. 

Reading series plays an important part in the reading development of our students because they have already internalised much about the characters and the setting so they can devote their attention to more complex plots so to have another one that appeals to those in-between readers to add to the collection is a bonus.  Miss 10 and I did have a discussion about whether Penelope should measure her worth in grades and whether that was the only reason her dad loved her, as well as what she thought about Joanna and whether there were ‘Joannas’ in her class and how she might reach out to them, which is the beauty of us both usually reading the same books, but even without that shared-reading element, this is a series I can recommend.

This Girl That Girl

This Girl That Girl

This Girl That Girl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Girl That Girl

Charlotte Lance

Allen & Unwin, 2016

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781760291709

This is this girl, and that is that girl. This girl likes to do things like this, and that girl likes to do things like that. Neighbours who are so different  – one demure, the other eccentric; one tidy, the other messy; one domesticated; one not so much. And each has a dad who is the opposite to who they are and each lives in a house that is not what you would expect. Miss Prim and Proper lives in a wacky colourful house complete with slides and rope bridges and a falling-down fence, while Miss Wild and Free lives in an orderly, symmetrical home reminiscent of a formal English mansion enclosed by a walled garden.  Are they SO different that they can never be friends – or are the similarities that unite stronger that the differences which divide?  The answer comes when both dads decide to build a treehouse – with the help of their respective daughters…

Vignettes on each page provide insights into the characters of each girl (and the patience of their fathers) and no doubt readers will recognise themselves in some of them and wish they could be like one or the other.

Author and illustrator Charlotte Lance says that the story was inspired by her two sons who are so different but regardless, they each get to where they need to be even if the route is different.  But before I read the publisher’s blurb, as I read the story I was thinking that they were one and the same girl, each with an inner personality trying to break through.  Did Miss Prim and Proper really, deep within, want to be Miss Wild and Free and vice versa? Or were they two separate girls determined to break free of their fathers’ influence by being the opposite of them?  Perhaps those questions are way too deep for the intended audience of young readers but I do like books that pose such philosophical questions that can be explored and take the reader’s thinking to a deeper level. 

Perhaps it’s just a fun story told in minimal text but maximum colour and movement about how personalities and talents can combine to produce a similar outcome – that despite the particular pathway we take, co-operation, collaboration and determination will deliver us to our destination.  And that there is no right way or wrong way, no better or worse – just different. The ultimate message is the total love between father and daughter and their unquestioning acceptance of each other for who they are, even if it’s not quite the same as them.  That has to be good.

Introducing Teddy: A story about being yourself

Introducing Teddy

Introducing Teddy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introducing Teddy: A story about being yourself

Jessica Walton

Dougal Macpherson

Bloomsbury, 2016

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781408877630

 

Errol and his teddy, Thomas, are best friends.  They do everything together and go everywhere together.  Riding the bike, planting the veges, eating sandwiches in the treehouse, and having tea parties indoors when it is raining. 

But one day Thomas seems incredibly sad and nothing Errol can do can cheer him up – not even playing on the swings in the park. 

“What’s wrong, Thomas. Talk to me,” said Errol.

“If I tell you,” said Thomas, you might not be my friend any more.”

“I will always be your friend, Thomas.”

Thomas the teddy took a deep breath.  “I need to be myself, Errol.  In my heart. I’ve always known that I’m a girl teddy, not a boy teddy.  I wish my name was Tilly, not Thomas.”

Does this revelation affect Errol’s friendship with his teddy?  Not at all. It’s their friendship that matters.  Neither does it bother their friend Ava, who scoots by and joins in the fun of the park.  And at the very next tea party Errol and Tilly have a lovely time with Ava and her robot.

The publisher’s blurb for this book says it is “a ground-breaking children’s book about gender identity and friendship’ and indeed it is for if you have ever tried to find stories about this topic for young people, you will know they are few and far between.  In fact, anything that touches on gender diversity is scarce and yet it is an area that needs and deserves attention.  Written in response to a personal need, its Australian author has really highlighted that gender orientation should not be that which defines us, and for kids, it isn’t.  Being a friend is much more important.  Having witnessed the transition of a girl to a boy first-hand, what was very evident was that the other students just accepted the child for who he was.  There was no fuss or bother, teasing or bullying.  Perhaps this was because of the way both the parents and the school handled the matter, but it was very apparent, that as with any form of discrimination, it is the adult generation that finds things hard to accept and imposes sanctions.  Just like Errol, the existing friendship was stronger and more important than anything else.

Through a wonderful marriage of text and illustrations, Walton and Macpherson have explored this concept perfectly – the repositioning of the bow tie to hair ribbon is just exquisite.

However, while I believe that this book and others like it have a place in the school library collection, there are those who are likely to object and therefore it would be prudent to make sure that your Collection Policy includes a statement such as “no resource in the general collection will be shelved, labelled or displayed in a way that discriminates or marginalises a user on the grounds of ability, culture, ethnicity, religion sexual orientation, or any other consideration”.  It would also be prudent to talk to your exec so they are in the loop as they are usually the go-to people when parents complain.  (For more information on this go to The Tricky Topics Hat )

“Inclusivity” and “diversity” have to be more than just buzzwords in the current educational jargon, and we need more writers like Jessica Walton to enable us to ensure that all our students are able to read about themselves in the resources we offer them.

 

Stuff Happens: Luke

Stuff Happens: Luke

Stuff Happens: Luke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stuff Happens: Luke

James Valentine

Puffin Books, 2016

120pp/. pbk., RRP $A9.99

9780143308973

 

Every now and then everyone gets scared – that’s normal.  But when even the mere thought of something like a spider, being shut in a small space, going into the outdoors, the calendar showing Friday the 13th totally freaks you out, then that’s a phobia.  And Luke has the most common phobia of all – glossophobia, the fear of public speaking. He can talk normally with his mates, his family, even his teacher in informal situations but ask him to speak in front of a crowd, even his classmates, and he freezes.  The words just don’t come at all. 

As the summer holidays come to an end and Year 5 looms, he is freaking out that he will be in 5H, Miss Hobbie’s class, because everyone knows that Term 2 is Speech Term and the whole focus is on preparing a speech for the class in the final week.  And his panic continues as his name is called for 5H, even though it is just Day One of Term One. Before he knows it Term Two arrives and as he expected, it’s Speech Term.  Even though his classmates know of his phobia and accept it as part of his being Luke, he labels himself a loser because of it and he is unable to overcome his fear.  He can’t even think of a topic, such is his mindblock. When Miss Hobbie learns of his condition from Perfect Pupil Dan, she sets out to help him suggesting he talk about phobias generally thinking that it will help Luke understand is condition and that it is very common. But it is his Dad, the one with his own YouTube channel, who comes up with the ultimate solution. Yet, when the big day comes Luke faints – even understanding that he has a phobia and being able to be word-perfect with his speech does not negate it.  Even fainting does not deter Miss Hobbie from insisting her deliver so while Luke doesn’t overcome his fear, he finds a solution that not only works for him but leads him down a new pathway, one that will build a stronger relationship with his dad.

Each year students across Australia participate in public speaking assignments whether they are comfortable like Dan or fearful like Luke.  There is an expectation that it is something that comes easily to kids who talk all the time anyway, and it will help them learn to articulate their thoughts in formal situations, use their voices and body language effectively, and boost their confidence in themselves.  But what if there are those like Luke?  What if this expectation of having to speak, let alone compete, starts to grip them months before the actual delivery date?  Teachers who seem to be comfortable in speaking to large groups because it is such a part of what we do, can learn as much from this new book in this terrific series as Luke does. 

So often boys see their fears and inabilities as weaknesses.  They look at the Dans of the world who seem to be so confident and so able and compare themselves, find they don’t measure up and label themselves losers affecting their self-esteem and self-confidence that it often becomes a downward spiral sometimes with disastrous consequences as they hit their teens.  The facts and statistics for suicide in Australia are scary and while we are not in the top 25 countries, nevertheless there are nearly 8 deaths each day because of it.  While reading Stuff Happens is not necessarily going to impact on that rate, the stories that are told are important for boys to see that no one is an all-macho hero like their comic-book favourites or even the peers they have put on a pedestal, that everyone has at least one Achilles heel and that the things that worry and scare them also worry and scare their friends. They are not alone. 

Susannah McFarlane, the series editor, has created something akin to the Men’s Shed for boys with this collection of stories that are so modern and so relevant.  World-class authors who create stories about the everyday things and write them in an unpatronising way that speaks directly to the reader, helping them to understand that not being able to do this or fearing that have to have an impact.  It’s OK to not be “perfect” and with each story ending on such a hopeful note for the future, young readers are encouraged to seek  their own solutions.  No wonder this series is so popular with my boy readers.

Elephant Man

Elephant Man

Elephant Man

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elephant Man

Mariangela Di Fiore

Hilde Hodnefjeld

Translated by Rosie Hedger

Allen & Unwin, 2016

48pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781760292201

The publishers’ blurb says it best…

“’Gather round – prepare to be amazed! A sight so very gruesome that you simply won’t believe it. Ladies and gentlemen – THE ELEPHANT MAN!’

Joseph doesn’t look like other people. His skin is thick and lumpy, his limbs are oddly shaped, and his head has a big bony bump. People call him Elephant Man and scream in terror when they see him. But inside, Joseph longs for a friend to understand him.

As Joseph is bullied and rejected at every turn, his situation grows more and more desperate. But a meeting with a kind doctor holds the hope to change his life

Based on the famous true story of Joseph Merrick, Elephant Man is a powerful tale about being different, finding happiness in even the hardest circumstances, and discovering beauty inside everyone. The unforgettable true story of one young man’s immense courage and his unbreakable spirit.”

This is a heart-breaking but uplifting story of a young man so badly deformed that he was sent to one of the infamous workhouses of 19th century England at a time when any disability – physical or mental, visible or invisible – was treated with such suspicion that the only solution by ‘genteel society’ was to lock the sufferers away.  “Out of sight, out of mind” would summarise the concept well.  Seeking to escape, Joseph found that exhibiting himself in a human oddities show had more appeal than the life he was living – a sad indictment of the times, indeed. But out of the inhumanity comes Frederick Treves who changes Joseph’s life…

Merrick’s life has been the subject of books, films, plays and documentaries so that over 100 years on, it is still a fascination. This picture book, based on fact but ficitionalised by the inclusion of thoughts and conversations, and cleverly sprinkled with original photos and documents, might seem to have little place in the collection of a primary school of the 21st century. But it’s value is far-reaching for all Joseph really wanted was to be accepted for who he was inside, not his external appearance; as a person first and a person with an illness last.  Extreme example it may be, but what a discussion starter for body image, racism, religious perspectives and all those other characteristics that judgements are made on.  Older students might even examine Hitler’s view of ‘Aryan supremacy’ or Jane Elliott’s Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes exercise.

The book also stands as a testament to how far we have come in our perception and treatment of those who are not “perfect” in a very short time in human history.  As we mark the centenary of World War I, students are reading of those who returned disabled and “shell-shocked”, often shunned by society and certainly with little social support as attitudes did not change.  Indeed, the biggest turnaround was in 1981 in the UN-declared  International Year of Disabled Persons and there was a global spotlight on each nation having a plan of action for “equalization of opportunities, rehabilitation and prevention of disabilities.”  From looking at something as basic as entry into public buildings we now have federal government legislation Disabled Standards for Education  which demands that we adapt our environments and our teaching for inclusivity.   While there is still much to do, gradually we are getting there and it is the understanding, tolerance and idealism of our young that will continue the march.  We should do these things because they are the right thing to do not because we are compelled by legislation.  

Elephant Man is not a gratuitous story about some freak-show oddity – it is a story about a man whose message reaches out across time to teach us so much about belonging, compassion and identity.  There is more information about Joseph Merrick at Biography.com