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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Children can learn a powerful lesson about differences while also being introduced to various medical, learning, developmental, and genetic conditions people live with.
It’s OK to ask questions about things you don’t understand. You have something positive to share with others/the world. Differences make us stronger and make life fun and interesting.
Positive Role Models
Many role models here -- characters are unique and likable, know their strengths and limitations, and accept differences. Diverse characters in terms of particular conditions, gender, ethnicity, and ability, while all contribute to their shared project in unique ways. Relatable characters, interests, and struggles.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, and Be You -- written by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and illustrated by award-winning illustrator Rafael Lopez -- is a picture book about the power of honoring people's differences. Twelve diverse kids introduce themselves and the condition they live with (diabetes, autism, Down syndrome, etc.). Young readers will learn about the conditions and, hopefully, be able to see themselves or someone they know in the bright illustrations and upbeat text. The featured kids are all role models in their own way: They're self-aware, accept differences, and ask questions to better understand things. Each two-page spread has a question that will help readers relate to the experience of the kid in the spotlight. The book opens and closes with the main lesson clearly stated to reinforce young readers' learning.
Is It Any Good?
This charming, beautifully illustrated picture book is a pleasure to read and share with children. Young readers who have any of the varied differences that the 12 featured characters live with rarely see themselves portrayed with the respect and honor that Sonia Sotomayor and Rafael Lopez reserve for them in Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, and Be You, which will make this an especially meaningful read for such kids. Even kids who aren't living with any of the challenges that are covered will be able to connect to the characters' feelings and experiences.
And the artwork is gorgeous -- vibrant, saturated colors portray detailed scenes in a vast garden and impart a sense of joy, while the kids of various ethnicities, genders, and abilities happily contribute to their joint project. Though the garden as a symbol for the beauty in human differences might go over younger kids' heads, older readers will have no problem identifying this main theme. The question at the end of each two-spread page helps kids stay engaged with both the book (and any adults reading with them). The lovely art, positive messages about asking questions/knowing yourself, and the diversity of the characters make this a great pick for kids of all ages.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate