Young Kate (now eight years old) and her mother, who first appeared in What's Heaven?
return in this companion volume as Kate questions her mother about Timmy, a boy at the park who is mentally disabled and looks and acts differently from the other kids. Once again, journalist Shriver uses the narrative to model a difficult conversation between parent and child. In a calm tone Kate's mother delivers information, insight rooted in her Christian faith ("We all have to realize that God loves us just as we are") and anecdotes about children with disabilities and why it's "so important to treat Timmy like any other kid." Kate's uneasiness and curiosity allayed, she begins to build a friendship with Timmy and subtly invites her other pals to be equally accepting of him. Shriver's message—perhaps a natural choice considering her family's founding and support of the Special Olympics—is to be lauded. But the dense text, delivered with a heavier hand than its predecessor, never quite achieves the connection with the reader needed to make an impact. Speidel's hazy, soft-edged pastels suggest a spiritual quality and universality that match the book's theme. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)