by Grace Warn
From the Editor: Grace Warn is an assistant who works for the Braille Monitor. She loves to watch television, as readers of the March issue will know, but she is also an active reader and offers this book review.
Close Your Eyes is told from the point of view of a normal little girl talking to the reader. She's explaining that she's normal and just like the children reading this book: "I'm like you, and you're like me, except that I just cannot see." She talks about things she likes to do, games she likes to play, and things she'd like to learn to do, just like her readers.
Like most children's books, the lines are in a rhyming pattern, creating a rhythm to the text as one reads it aloud. The pictures are colorful and simple, done in either color pencil or pastels. The real value in the book is the message it presents about blindness. The little girl emphasizes to her readers all the ways in which she is just like them and a few of the ways in which she is different. She also points out that the differences aren't all that significant.
The author, Michelle Friedman <michellewrites4kids.com>, was legally blind until age thirty-five, when she lost the remainder of her vision. She often speaks at schools, and she has written the book to serve as a bridge between disabled and nondisabled children. She says that although she wrote about blindness because of her personal experience, the book could have been about any disability.
At the beginning of the book Michelle has a note to parents, grandparents, and teachers. She expresses the hope that her book will spark a discussion that will help children realize that just because someone is disabled doesn't mean they can't be friends and do most of the activities other children do. She also includes a list of the most frequently asked questions she gets from children when she speaks at their schools, along with her answers and insights.I recommend this book to parents of blind children. Learning that blind children can ride bicycles and roller skate may help a timid child and may encourage other family members to be less protective. The book may also be one you will want to lend out to your child's teacher, scout troop leader, or the parent of a child your son or daughter meets at the park. This is also a book I would highly recommend any elementary school teacher add to their classroom or school library. Whether or not you currently have a blind student, the information given by Michelle Friedman will create understanding that will help future blind students and any students with disabilities.