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My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay

by Cari Best
Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Published by Farrar Straus Giroux, 2015
32 pages
ISBN: 978-0-374-38819-5

Ages 4-8

Zulay, who is blind, wants to be treated like the other kids in her elementary classroom. And mostly, she is. She and her three best friends (one white, one Asian American and one African American, like Zulay) help one another in class and play together during recess. When the other students go to gym, though, Zulay has to work with Ms. Turner, who is teaching her to walk with a cane. Zulay doesn’t want to use a cane because it makes her stand out as different. When their teacher announces an upcoming Field Day, however, Zulay is determined to run a race in her new pink shoes, and this motivates her to work hard with Ms. Turner so she will be able to participate. The training pays off and she is able to run around the track using her cane, with Ms. Turner at her side. Inspired by a real child the author met on a school visit in New York City, the story is refreshingly realistic. Vanessa Brantley-Newton’s spirited illustrations show uniformed students in a public school where accommodation is shown as an integral part of their inclusive community. The name labels tacked to the desks of all twenty-two students in Zulay’s classroom, for example, are written in both print and Braille.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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