Sep 18

My Friend Isabelle

Posted by Soliloquy in Children's Books | Intellectual Disabilities

(2004 iParenting Media Award Winner) Isabelle and Charlie are friends. They both like to draw, dance, read, and play at the park. They both like to eat Cheerios. They both cry if their feelings are hurt. And, like most friends, they are also different from each other. Isabelle has Down syndrome. Charlie doesn’t. Written by Isabelle’s mother, this charming tale encourages readers to think about what makes a friendship special. MY FRIEND ISABELLE also opens the door for young children to ta…

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5 Responses

  • Lawrance M. Bernabo says:

    Review by Lawrance M. Bernabo for My Friend Isabelle
    Charlie and Isabelle are the same age but they have some differences. For example, Charlie is tall and Isabelle is short, and whereas Charlie runs fast, Isabelle likes to take her time. The last difference that Charlie explains is when he tells us: “I know a lot of words. Isabelle’s words are sometimes hard for me to understand.” In the text of “My Friend Isabelle,” author Eliza Woloson never comes out and says that Isabelle has Down syndrome and I was thinking that any indication of her condition in Bryan Gough’s illustrations might well be too subtle for young children to pick up. But then it occurred to me that if a parent was reading this book to young children, or let them read it on their own, and then there was probably already a child with Down syndrome in the family or in the neighborhood.

    This works either way in terms of teaching the lesson that is at the heart of “My Friend Isabelle.” Either the child will recognize that Isabelle has Down syndrome and figure out what is really going on in the story, or the child’s curiosity will compel them to ask their parent to explain why Charlie has trouble understanding Isabelle. Once Charlie gets to the key difference between himself and his friend, Charlie recalls the words of his Mommy, that “differences are what makes the world so great.” Having advanced the idea that differences are a good thing, the rest of the book focuses on the many things that Charlie and Isabelle have in common when they play together each Friday. They both like to twirl, to drink apple juice, and to go down the big slide at the park. At the end, the words of Charlie’s mother provide the stories benediction.

    The explicit goal of “My Friend Isabelle” is to have young children do their small part to make the world a more tolerant place. The idea that friendships are special and that our differences can make the world more interesting certainly extends beyond children with Down syndrome. Beyond the idea that Isabella can do many of the things that Charlie can do, although sometimes it take her a little longer to them, the book does not get into the specifics of Down syndrome. But the inside back cover provides web sites for finding out more information on Down syndrome from either the National Down Syndrome Society or the National Down Syndrome Congress. Parents will easily be able to find other resources on the Internet as well.

  • Lisa Domagala says:

    Review by Lisa Domagala for My Friend Isabelle
    I can’t praise this book enough. The illustrations and straightforward story line appeal to children while the message is one all aldults need to see. As the mother of a Down Syndrome child, I was overjoyed at how clearly the message came through that Down Syndrome kids are kids first. They enjoy all the usual childhood activities and enjoy friendships with thier non-Downs peers as well. I plan on purchasing this book for our local public library and our elementary school library as well.

  • James Snow Ellsworth says:

    Review by James Snow Ellsworth for My Friend Isabelle
    This is a wonderful book about diversity in the world, which is truly what makes this planet great. This childrens’ book has beautiful illustrations and has a story line kids can learn about the differneces in other kids they encounter in day to day life. To celebrate diversity, not ignore or make it a negative issue. This book brings tears to your eyes.

  • carol woloson says:

    Review by carol woloson for My Friend Isabelle

  • Elizabeth Perkins says:

    Review by Elizabeth Perkins for My Friend Isabelle
    “My Friend Isabelle” is a book that ALL parents should have on their bookshelf. It celebrates the relationship between two children who are different from one another. It is an important book because today’s classrooms are becoming more and more diverse. This book is a great tool to introduce these differences. I have been waiting for a book like “My Friend Isabelle”. Thank you Ms. Woloson for being so insightful.

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