Perfect Picture Book Friday – Just Because

51HNXlTlO2L__BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU02_Just Because
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.

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About Cathy Ballou Mealey

Children's book author, repped by Liza Fleissig of the Liza Royce Agency. Wife, mother, daughter, sister, alumna, autism advocate, book reviewer. Reach me via email at cmealey@post.harvard.edu or Twitter @catballoumealey
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42 Responses to Perfect Picture Book Friday – Just Because

  1. tinamcho says:

    This seems like a great premise for a book, as my kids spend a majority of their time squabbling! Thanks for sharing!

  2. I love that this book actually teaches us about the inner beauty and once again through the eyes of a child. So appealing. Loved it, thanks for sharing, Cathy.

  3. Tough topic, but it sounds like a wonderful book. Great choice.

  4. Sue Wang says:

    Sounds like a sweet book, Cathy. Perspective is everything -how one writes about and presents disability/love can diffuse all kinds of judgments and -isms. Nice to start kids early on this (and adults too). ❤

  5. This sounds absolutely lovely, Cathy, and I am always so glad to see books that deal with disabilities in a positive way and help kids realize that people are people – we’re all different when it comes to that, it’s just a question of how – but we’re also all the same in so many ways. Thanks for adding this one to our list!

  6. danacarey1 says:

    Thanks for sharing this book, Cathy. It’s great to see a book dealing with a difficult topic in a positive way and with fun, beautiful illustrations.

  7. Catherine Johnson says:

    My kids play great most of the time and are at a lovely age where Hannah is old enough to join in but you have to watch them because the odd thing they do to each other is down right dangerous lol.

  8. This book has a great message Ms. Mealey! I think I would like to read this!

  9. Dang it, Cathy! I can’t make a smartassed remark with this one.

    The premise of this book is just so very sweet.

  10. Amy D says:

    Love the opening you shared and the artwork looks so charming. Thanks, Cathy!

  11. Really cool cover illo too!

  12. Cathy, I am so happy someone reviewed this book. It is one of my very favorites. I love how the brother and sister are so accepting of one another and never is the word disability mentioned. I reviewed in the summer of 2011 before we started PPB and always hoped someone would place it on our list. (By the way, I saw your e-mail post, but didn’t see this book posted on Susanna’s list. Did you enter it?)

  13. Janet Smart says:

    Sounds like a great book for kids. Love the colorful cover, too.

  14. This sounds great, Cathy! One of my PiBoIdMo ideas is very similar so I’m going to write this down as a comp book and check it out when I get to that idea. Thanks so much!

  15. I wasn’t familiar with this publisher, Cathy. Thanks for sharing this book.

  16. Joanna says:

    I remember this from Pat’s review. I adore all that love and appreciation right there in the opening paragraph and it just keeps flowing.

  17. This book sounds wonderful! A couple of my young students have cerebral palsy and they might like this book. It might also be nice to share with their Kindergarten classmates. Thank you for sharing it.

  18. izatrapani1 says:

    What a nice choice, Cathy! We need more picture books addressing children with disabilities. It sounds like this one is written with a big heart. The pictures are adorable too!

  19. Oh! What a lovely book! I surely want to find this one! Thanks!

  20. This sounds like a beautiful book. A couple of years ago I had (almost) identical twins in my class – almost identical because one had cerebral palsy. One day the twin without CP giggle to me, “Today the boys and girls can tell us apart – I have a bandaid on my knee”. That was the way that she saw herself and her sister. And that was the way that the rest of the class saw them too. I think I need to get Just Because to add to my classroom collection.

  21. The story and illustrations are beautiful. We’ll check this one out.

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