Title: Sara's Secret
Author: Suzanne Wanous
Illustrator: Shelly O. Haas
Publisher & Publication Date: Carolrhoda Books, Inc., 1995
Genre: Realistic fiction, informational
Grade Level: 2-5
Summary: Sara is a little girl who has a handicapped brother. His name is Justin and he has cerebral palsy. They recently moved schools and she has been given an assignment to bring in something that has to deal with a disability. The other students start talking about the students in the special ed class and Sara becomes uncomfortable. She has been keeping Justin a secret at this school because she was made fun of at the one they attended before. She tells her parents about the assignment and they suggest that she brings Justin to the classroom. At first she doesn't want to because she doesn't want anyone to know about her being related to him, but she ends up bringing him in and talking about him to the class. She explains what cerebral palsy is and that it cannot be transmitted to another person from contact. She is relieved to find out that her friends do not make fun of her and are supportive of her and her brother.
Response: I thought this was a sad book, but it did have a pleasing ending. The cover of it caught my eye, so I decided to read it. It was interesting and informative. The author's note at the end explained more about cerebral palsy. The illustrations were mostly bright colors and seemed to run together. I would guess that the images were produced with watercolors. The facial expressions were so real. There was a lot of text on most pages and so I would use this for mid to upper elementary students. It also covers a subject that might be more helpful and understandable for mid to upper elementary students.
Teaching Ideas: I would use the idea from the book that the teacher gave his students to research. This would be an excellent book to talk about disabilities and differences among each other. I would read the book to the class and then talk about the same things the teacher in the book talked about, and then have them do the same assignment. This would be a great learning experience for all of the students, and who knows maybe someone would have a secret like Sara had in the book.