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C. Jean Cutbill and Diane Rawsthorn
Illustrated by Sarah Kronick

Toronto, IPI Publishing, 1988. 30pp, paper, $6.95, ISBN 0-920702-37-6
Distributed by IPI Publishing Ltd., 130 Castlefield Avenue, Toronto, Ont. M4R 1G7. CIP

Kindergarten to Grade 3 / Ages 5-8
Reviewed by Glenn DiPasquale.

Volume 17 Number 4
1989 July

This is a book written for learning disabled children. It follows the title character from breakfast to bedtime on his birthday. According to the publisher, the book is intended to help such children understand and accept themselves and their disabilities by showing them that they are not alone or unique. The last page of the book lists some brief ideas for parents and educators to share Jason's story to enhance "self-understanding and self-acceptance for the learning disabled child."

The production and format of this big, well laid out book are quite good. It uses an absolute minimum of colour, however, and this presentation creates a Spartan, sterile look. The writing, too, is Spartan. The authors appear to go out of their way to avoid contractions and a variety of sentence structures, and this style results in an unnatural stiffness in the dialogue. Contrary to common belief, this kind of "bare bones" material is not easier for learning disabled children to master. The approach betrays a rather naive, unitary perception of what is, in reality, a constellation of overlapping disabilities with a kaleidoscopic array of symptoms.

This book's best feature is that it was written at all. Learning disabled children, like all handicapped individuals, don't see enough role models portrayed in the media. On that score alone Happy Birthday, Jason is worth acquiring. It's a somewhat weak attempt, however, with no real story-line to provoke interest or discussion, and is best suited to children under nine.

Glenn DiPasquale, Newmarket. Ont.
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