Heelan, Jamie Riggio. Rolling Along: the Story of Taylor and His Wheelchair. Illus. Nicola Simmonds. Atlanta: Peachtree, 2000. ISBN 1-56145-219X. $14.95.
Rolling Along begins with a seemingly obvious point about people with disabilities who seem "different"-- that Taylor, like his "normal" twin brother, loves chocolate ice cream and his local football team. Describing Taylor's energy and enthusiasm in dealing with cerebral palsy, the book clarifies for all readers what a disability is?a limiting condition to which adjustments must be made. These adjustments are likely lifelong, as with cerebral palsy, but adjustments?e.g. to use a walker or a wheelchair?once decided upon enable kids and grownups to function fully and successfully. I know this because my niece has cerebral palsy, gets around in her wheelchair faster than I do walking, and is now a college junior with a high GPA. It's not easy?disabilities are time-consuming in terms of necessary therapy and time to dress and study, but, as Heelan writes on the book's last page of Taylor's first-person story, "...nothing can stop me."
The text is straightforward and informative. For example, one of Taylor's friends doesn't understand why he prefers his wheelchair to using a walker; he explains that walking tires him. With his wheelchair, he is much more mobile. And, since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), he, like my niece, uses ramps and automated door openers to travel with relative ease. The book, laudably, doesn't soft-pedal the difficulties Taylor and others face when confronted with stairs and no accommodations, for example, in bathrooms. But the emphasis is on what Taylor can do. Though quite young, he and his friend discuss his situation openly, and Taylor's close relationship to his helpful twin is lovingly depicted, as is his therapy.
The art is exceptional, a combination of head-shot photographs and softly-colored bodies, wheelchairs, and settings.