• Olivia uses a wheelchair for mobility. Why does she say it is bullying her? How does she respond?
In “Good Hands” by Ron Koertge, Olivia is the victim of an accident which leaves her paralyzed from the waist down and in a wheelchair. Although her accident was 6 years ago, she still compares herself to others based on their mobility, and resents her accident for changing her life. She expresses this resentment by say her chair is bullying her, and pushing her around. Olivia chooses to focus on the ways in which her chair limits her, rather than using it as a tool to continue doing the things she loves.
She responds very bitterly to her wheelchair, rather than being grateful for the mobility and freedom it allows her. When others offer her assistance she reacts negatively, rudely pushing them away. In the restroom, a student pulls some paper towels out of the dispenser and hands them to Olivia, patting her on the head. This is a demeaning gesture, but rather than explain the action in a mature manner, Olivia begins to bark and wiggle her tongue like a dog. The student speeds away in shock, and Olivia justifies her behavior because of their differences, when the student acted out of good intentions. Olivia finds it hard to adjust to her life in a wheelchair, and takes out this aggression on others.
• This story had 2 individuals with challenges. What did they have in common and what was different?
“See You” by Kathleen Jefferie Johnson introduces us to Jason, an overweight boy with abandonment issues, and Tyler, a diabetic who is legally blind. Each boy faces their own challenges. Jason dislikes the town her was left in by his parents, who are constantly in and out of jail, and has to face the wrath of bullies teasing him for his weight. Tyler has to manage his sugar intake and navigate around town without being able to see it. While each boy faces their own individual challenges, a chance meeting will reveal how much they have in common.
In the story, Jason and Tyler are both terrorized by a girl named Hadley. Hadley is a constant dread in Jason’s life, always making fun of him for his size. On this particular day, Hadley leads Tyler into an empty secluded lot and leaves him there. Jason runs into Hadley’s girlfriend Kurt, who has a bone to pick with Tyler after he saw the two of them walking around together. When they find Tyler, Kurt begins beating him up, and Jason comes to his defense. It is at this point that we realize how alone both of the boys are. Jason is socially secluded and spends much of his time with video games and snacks, and Tyler fears being alone and helpless, but pushes himself to figure things out on his own. In the end, their interaction brings them closer together, and in this way they each become a little less lonely.
• We don’t often think about being obese or very thin as a disability. Why do you think this story was included in this book?
Rene Salana Jr., author of “Fatboy and Skinnybones,” writes about how...