As a child, Cerrie Burnell read stories but never found a character that looked like her. Born with one hand, she knows the importance of reading books where you feel represented, as she says, ‘representation matters’. To ensure that every child can see someone who looks just like them she has created a very important and relevant book that showcases a wonderful collection of disabled people.
Discover the true stories of thirty-four individuals who have overcome various obstacles and challenges in life to achieve personal goals and to be amongst the best in their chosen fields. From scientists to athletes, astronomers to musicians, lawyers to comedians. Having a disability does not define your life, you define your life, and with the right attitude anything is possible as these men and women prove…
In I am Not a Label, Cerrie Burnell introduces readers to thirty-four disabled people from the past right up until the here and now. It is a wide ranging collective of individuals of different races from all over the world and who have made names for themselves as scientists, authors, mathematicians, athletes, lawyers, writers, activists, explorers, presidents, musicians, actors, models and designers. Burnell profiles individuals with a range of disabilities including deafness, blindness, spina bifida, osteomalacia (a bone weakening condition), autism, limb impairment, cerebral palsy, fibromyalgia and Down Syndrome. The well-known names of Stephen Hawking, Beethoven, Stevie Wonder and Frida Kahlo sit alongside the lesser known ones of Eliza Suggs, Nabil Shaban, Catalina Devandas and Arunima Sinha. Importantly for young readers, there are famous faces that are relevant to their lives and they may well be surprised to learn that popular icons including magician Dynamo and musicians Lady Gaga and Demi Lovato have disabilities.
Through powerful stories, Burnell challenges reader’s ideas about disability and shows that incredible things can be achieved in all manner of circumstances. She does an exceptional job of showing that disabled people can live rich and rewarding lives just as much as their able-bodied counterparts and that is a wonderful message to deliver to readers of any age.
Twenty five individuals are given double page spreads and feature length profiles. A further nine individuals are grouped in triplets under seperate headings and include shorter profiles and smaller illustrations: Hidden Disabilities features Dynamo, Lil Wayne and Michelle Akers; Paralympic Stars features Jonas Jacobsson, Trischa Zorn and Ade Adepitan; Mental Health features Abraham Lincoln, Matt Haig and Demi Lovato. The feature length profiles are superb and are as unique as each of the individuals, sharing details on childhood, growing-up, accomplishments, achievements and legacy - many will leave readers wanting to find out more. Colourful artwork fills the pages and an awesome illustration of the individual doing what they do best features on the opposite page to the profile.
Exceptionally well-presented, expertly researched and bursting with incredible true stories; this is more than just a book of inspirational stories about people with disabilities. It is a book about people who would, and should, not be defined by their disability but by their achievements. With an introduction that is worth the money alone, Burnell has produced a very special book that every child should have the opportunity to read.
Recommended for 9+.
With huge thanks to Cerrie Burnell and Wide Eyed Editions for the advanced reader copy that I received via NetGalley.