Young People’s Pavilion: Engaging Story Offers Empowerment and Acceptance of Learning Differences

“Exploring the topic of learning disabilities can be challenging, especially the social-emotional fallout for children who are struggling, but Thompkins-Bigelow accomplishes the task. Rose’s lively and colorful illustrations are eye-pleasing and showcase diversity. This is an engaging story that not only offers empowerment but also models understanding and acceptance of learning differences.” —The Horn Book Magazine

In Abdul’s Story by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, A little boy who loves storytelling but struggles with writing learns that it’s okay to make mistakes in this charming and encouraging picture book from the author of Mommy’s Khimar. Abdul loves to tell stories. But writing them down is hard. His letters refuse to stay straight and face the right way. And despite all his attempts, his papers often wind up with more eraser smudges than actual words. Abdul decides his stories just aren’t meant to be written down…until a special visitor comes to class and shows Abdul that even the best writers-and superheroes-make mistakes.

“Abdul, a kid with skin the color of the orange of a sunset and a hairstyle cut high and tight, is full of stories, and his classmates clamor for them, writes Kimberly Olson Fakih in School Library Journal. “The residents of his neighborhood star in these stories because Abdul observes everything and misses little. An author visits his class, sending Abdul into a tailspin of worry. Some letters challenge him; he erases a lot; he makes a mess on the page. The teacher, Mr. Muhammad, shows Abdul his own messy notebook, and opens the boy’s mind up to rewriting, and reworking, until the story on the page matches Abdul’s ideals. That one adult can turn a child away from self-loathing to self-realization is a common theme, but it’s transcendent here. There is no epiphany, no abrupt connection but instead loads of hard work and compassion, as well as patience. In the cheerful illustrations, the classroom is full of supporting characters of many backgrounds, but this is definitely Abdul’s story. VERDICT A realistic look at what it takes to improve, this book will find a wide audience among other children who have struggled with words.”

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