Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You

Sonia Sotomayor, illus. by Rafael López. Philomel, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-525-51412-1
Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor’s (Turning Pages) experience as a child with juvenile diabetes spurred this meditation on the idea that we’re all different. Using a compassionate, forthright tone, she engages the metaphor of a garden to explain how variation creates beauty: “Thousands of plants bloom together, but every flower, every berry, and every leaf is different... Kids are all different too.” Extending the theme, artwork by López (The Day You Begin) shows children working together on a spacious garden. Starting with her own story and continuing with López’s experience with asthma, Sotomayor next includes 12 additional characters with diverse experiences, such as dyslexia, a nut allergy, and Tourette’s syndrome. The children introduce themselves, sometimes noting differences along a spectrum (Jordan and Tian, both autistic, communicate differently). Characters engage with readers, too; after describing how he gets around in a wheelchair, Anthony asks, “How do you get from place to place?” The title expresses Sotomayor’s conviction that asking, far from being impolite, banishes isolation. If anyone doesn’t “feel ready to explain,” “I just ask my parents or my teachers and they help me to understand.” A quiet musing about how “each of us has unique powers to share.” Ages 4–8. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 07/18/2019
Release date: 09/03/2019
Genre: Children's
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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