Aaron Slater, Illustrator
by Andrea Beaty & David Roberts
Review Copy from Abrams Kids
With Aaron Slater, Illustrator, Beaty and Roberts add a fifth (and possibly my favorite…) title to their incredible series of picture books featuring protagonists who overcome challenges as they pursue their passions. Beaty, with her unparalleled gift for writing in verse, and Roberts, with his talent for bringing colors, patterns, and cultural references to the page (as well as endearing characters), have partnered to create a world built on a foundation of creativity, curiosity, empathy, compassion and perseverance.
It is amazing to think that, in those first illustrations of Miss Lila Greer’s class, as seen in Iggy Peck, Architect, published fourteen years ago, all of The Questioneers are there, waiting for their stories to be told. And, what is especially impressive and worth noting each and every time I review a book in this series (that now consists of picture, project and chapter books) is the diversity that was on the page in 2007, a full seven years before the founders of We Need Diverse Books, now diversebooks.org, began advocating for "essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that honors the lives of all young people." Kudos to Beaty, Roberts ( agents and editors
With Aaron Slater, Illustrator, bringing diverse characters to the page expands and deepens* as the dynamic duo tell the story of a boy who loves listening to stories, dreaming of the day he can create one of his own. When that time comes, dyslexia makes the class assignment of writing a story deeply challenging for Aaron. Happily, Miss Greer recognizes the various kinds of learning styles (and the many ways to tell a story) and values them all.
Beaty and Roberts present Aaron’s struggles to read as he grows into a second grader in the story and on the page, but it is not until the full page author’s and illustrator’s notes at the end of the book that the word dyslexia is used AND that the text has been printed in Dyslexie, a typeface specially designed for people with dyslexia! Beaty first shares that Aaron is named after Aaron Douglas, an African American painter and key figure in the Harlem Renaissance. From there she gives brief definitions of dyslexia and other learning difficulties, such as dysgraphia, dyscalculia and attention deficit disorder, writing, "Aaron’s dyslexia informs who he is, but it does not define who he is. We each have our own superpowers and struggles. That’s what makes us unique, beautiful, strong and important to the world. Just like Aaron." Roberts adds that he, too, struggled with reading and spelling and this drove him to learn, like Aaron Slater, to tell stories with pictures, making this a very special book for him.
*Aaron has two moms and an older sibling with hearing aids. And, for the first time, I noticed that a student in Miss Greer’s class has a cochlear implant. This sent back to poring over the first four books in the series and, while it is not visible in the first two books (the student is either seen straight or in profile, looking to the left) a head turn in book three reveals the implant!
For a superb website filled with a world of resources, visit THE QUESTIONEERS
For my reviews of books in this series, click HERE
November 2, 2021 at 01:01PM Tanya