Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You

Philomel. Sept. 2019. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525514121.
PreS-Gr 2–Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor opens her celebration of diversity with a letter to readers in which she writes about her experience growing up in the 1960s and being diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. She compares communities to a garden in which each plant has a different purpose. Readers are then introduced to a diverse group of children who create a beautiful garden. Each child tells a bit about themselves and then asks a question that is answered by the following character. On the final spread, readers are shown the beautiful garden now completed and filled with all the children from the story. This is a hopeful and sunny exploration of the many things that make us unique. The clever question-and-answer structure and conversational tone encourages readers to answer the questions themselves, while the informative text gives caregivers a useful foundation of information to begin a conversation. López’s dynamic and vibrant illustrations emphasize each character’s unique abilities with inventive pairings of natural elements. On one page a young Sotomayor is shown sitting in the center of an enormous red rose with prominent thorns. The text explains that because she is diabetic, she must prick her finger several times a day to measure the sugar in her blood. Vijay, who is Deaf, is shown standing next to a young sapling and signing “tree” in American Sign Language.
VERDICT A thoughtful and empathetic story of inclusion that encourages readers to ask questions and educate themselves about their peers. A first purchase.

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