Author/illustrator Rebecca Elliott
Lion Hudson, 2010
Suitable for ages 4- 7
Themes: Sibling bond, disabilities
Opening: “My big sister Clemmie is my best friend. She can’t walk, talk, move around much, cook macaroni, pilot a plane, juggle or do algebra. I don’t know why she doesn’t do these things. Just because.”
Why I like this book: Elliott tells us all the things that a young boy appreciates about his older sister Clemmie. Funny, thoughtful and heartfelt, his voice is sincere and authentic in celebrating the positive aspects of their relationship. Not all brothers are so lucky, he tells us: “Some sisters can be mean. They scream and shout, pull your hair, steal your chips and won’t play cowboys with you.” But not Clemmie. The rhythmic, clever text and masterful illustrations reveal that Clemmie’s disability does not constrain their imaginative play or fun.
Elliott based Just Because on her son Toby and daughter Clementine, who has severe cerebral palsy. It is a gentle, touching book about being loved for who you are, as you are, while promoting the positive aspects of people with special needs. It subtly encourages children to understand and adopt positive attitudes towards siblings as well as people with disabilities. She’s garnered heaps of well deserved awards and accolades which you can find on her website.
Activities: Cooperative games emphasizing fun challenges and equal participation encourage young children to build friendships with one another, regardless of ability. The Learning for Life site offers a PDF with ideas for new and old favorite games like ‘Sardines’ and ‘Going to the Moon’ in which everyone has fun and wins.
I recommend you read this sweet book, as the refrain repeated throughout the story says, “Just because.”
Perfect Picture Book Fridays are the creation of the children’s book author Susanna Leonard Hill. Susanna maintains a complete list (alphabetically and by theme) of all reviews with new books being added every Friday. It’s a wonderful resource if you’re looking for book activities or books with a particular theme.