Peg Leg Pedicure
Little Steps, 2022
32pp., hbk., RRP $A26.95
Eva is so used to her mum having artificial legs because she had lost her real ones after a childhood illness, that she is quite taken aback when a school friend calls her mum “weird” because of them. Eva sees her mum as strong and brave and busy just like all the other mums, one who makes light of her metal legs by pretending to be a pirate and who lets Eva give her old, more traditional peg-legs pedicures and paint the toes like rainbows.
But rather than be cross with Rishab for upsetting Eva, her mum has the perfect solution – and so she shows the kids how being different in one way or another is what makes them extraordinary.
While stories about children being different are quite common for little ones, it is not often there is one about the parent, particularly one based on a true situation because co-author Eliza Ault-Connell, an Australian wheelchair track athlete who has competed at the Olympics, Paralympics and World Championships after losing her legs and most of her fingers but surviving meningococcal disease is Eva’s “mum”.
Thus, by celebrating her “disability” – something that opened more doors for her than she could probably have imagined as an able-bodied person – young children can be inspired to make the most of what they have. That that which sets them apart is what makes them unique and extraordinary. I can always remember my mum telling me as a young child in the 50s that with red hair, glasses and freckles I probably wouldn’t win a beauty contest but I had brains that would outstrip anyone and so that is what I used as I grew up and they lasted much longer than any pretty face might have.
This is an uplifting story that encourages our young readers to focus on what they perceive to be their weaknesses and then work out how they can use them to be brave and bold and smart, no matter what.