Kirkus Reviews QR Code
JUST ASK! by Sonia Sotomayor


Be Different, Be Brave, Be You

by Sonia Sotomayor ; illustrated by Rafael López

Pub Date: Sept. 3rd, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-525-51412-1
Publisher: Philomel

Drawing on her experiences as a child with juvenile diabetes, the Supreme Court justice addresses kids’ curiosity about disability and illness.

“Each of us grows in our own way,” says Sonia, a Latina child based on the author, as she and her friends plant a garden. Just as each plant has a “different color, different shape, and different purpose,” kids are “all different too.” Encouraging curious readers to “JUST ASK,” Sonia and 11 friends introduce their respective disabilities and chronic illnesses—ranging from blindness to nut allergies—by asking such questions as “How do you use your senses?” and “Are you really good at something?” The kids’ matter-of-fact explanations blend strengths and difficulties. Bianca, who has dyslexia, “love[s] learning by doing things”; Manuel, who has ADHD, “can get frustrated when [they] really feel the need to move around even though [they’re] supposed to sit still.” Though the number of conditions may tax younger readers’ attention spans, kids with those conditions who “don’t feel ready to explain” will appreciate the text’s inclusiveness; as Sonia acknowledges, “Not everyone is comfortable answering questions about themselves.” Enlivening the familiar theme, López’s bold figures, vibrant colors, and close perspective welcome readers into a garden bursting with assorted blossoms, insects, and birds. Refreshingly, most characters present as kids of color of various heritages, ranging from black and Latinx to South and Southeast Asian. One presents white.

An affirmative, delightfully diverse overview of disabilities.

(Informational picture book. 4-8)