Future Reflections Winter/Spring 2000, Vol. 19 No. 1
From the Editor: I asked a colleague of mine, Mrs. Peggy Chong, to take a stab at reviewing Mandy Sue Day, a children’s picture book by Roberta Karim. I discovered Mandy Sue Day through another blind friend—Marie Cobb—who happened upon it when she was ordering books from Discovery Toys for her grandchildren. Mrs. Chong reports that she was able to order the book through Bibelot’s bookstore. Mandy Sue Day is also available on cassette tape through your regional library for the blind.
The reviewer, Mrs. Chong, has the perspective of a woman who grew up as a partially sighted child who often resisted and denied her blindness. Readers may remember her article “I’m Partially Sighted, and I Use a White Cane” published in the Volume 16, Number 4 issue of Future Reflections. Here, now, is her review:
MANDY SUE DAY
by Roberta Karim
Illustrated by Karen Ritz
© 1994, Houghton Mifflin Company
Review by Peggy Chong
Mandy Sue Day, written by Roberta Karim, is a delightful story for young readers about a farm girl and her horse, Ben.
Mandy lives on Amos Acres, the farm owned by her family. At the end of harvest season, the parents gives each of their six children a special day off for “good behavior.” This story is about the day Mandy Sue planned for herself.
As the author, with many wonderful descriptive phrases, takes the reader through Mandy Sue’s long awaited special day, he/she soon feels the love of Mandy Sue’s family and the love that Mandy Sue has for her horse, Ben.
Mandy feeds and grooms her horse for their lazy day. They ride around the farm, through the woods, then back to the barn to remove the burrs and riding gear—just Mandy Sue and her horse. It’s a fantasy day many little girls might dream about.
After a special meal prepared by her mother, Mandy Sue heads out to the barn to sleep with Ben. Little brother tries to give her a flashlight and is gently reminded by Mandy Sue that she doesn’t need it because “I can’t see.” Although there are some very subtle hints about her blindness in the text and the illustrations, it is only at this point near the end of the book that the reader is conscious of Mandy Sue’s blindness.
Even today, enlightened authors struggle with the portrayal of disabled children in literature. Some try to be politically correct while others attempt to make a statement. This author chose to tell a story about a little girl who just happens to be blind. The character is clearly a little girl first. She is a part of a loving family that lives on a farm. Mandy Sue is fortunate to have a horse of her own and a special day to spend with that horse. Blindness is just one of her characteristics. She is Mandy Sue Day—not blind Mandy Sue Day.
I highly recommend this book for any young child. I think, however, that girls, and especially girls who are blind, will particularly enjoy the story