Acclaimed novelist Beverly Lewis is a mom of several adopted special needs children, and in her children's picture book In Jesse's Shoes, she helps other youngsters understand how to appreciate and interact with mentally challenged boys and girls. The book is narrated by Allie, Jesse's sister, whom he calls "Sisser." It is Allie's responsibility to look out for Jesse, making sure that he gets to the bus on time, isn't teased by other children, has his lunch and school supplies with him, and then gets back home safely each evening. This is not easy, however, for Jesse constantly doddles on the way to school, getting distracted by the call of a bird, or the smell of a flower, or the fun of watching a bug crawl across a leaf. Although tall and healthy and handsome, Jesse cannot speak in coherent sentences, nor stay focused on tasks for very long, nor make new friends among the kids on his block or at his bus stop.
In time, Allie becomes weary of having to be Jesse's guardian and babysitter. She complains to her father, who listens patiently but then tells Allie that God makes all of his children for a purpose in life. The father suggests that Allie try to see the world from Jesse's point of view, that she figuratively walk a mile in his shoes. When Jesse hears this, he brings his shoes to his sister and tells her to put them on. He insists that she walk a mile in his shoes. Allie agrees, and for several hours she goes with Jesse and learns to pay attention to sounds, smells, and sights in a way she has never done before. Her brother shows Allie the value of slowing down and enjoying God's creations. In the end, Allie gains more appreciation for Jesse, and she even is able to teach him how to say her real name, instead of "Sisser".
This book is sensitive, insightful, and wise. The vocabulary is simple enough for children of young ages to comprehend and follow, and the graciousness and kindness of the message aligns it perfectly with the teachings of Jesus. The artwork by Laura Nikiel is bright and colorful, with numerous two-page spreads showing everyday scenes of neighborhoods, parks, school buses, and children running and playing. This book holds the interest of young readers while also teaching them lessons of great value. Dr. Dennis Hensley, www.christianbookpreviews.com
What parent hasn't urged son or daughter not to stare at or tease a child who is "different" or disabled in some way?
In this sensitive yet realistic story, Jesse's sister struggles to understand her brother--and the kids who make fun of him. This endearing book will encourage families everywhere to appreciate and befriend children with special needs.