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John C. Walker
Illustrated by Connie Steiner Toronto, Annick Press, 1993. 32pp, paper
ISBN 1-55037-310-2 (paper) $4.95, ISBN 155037-309-9 (library binding) $14.95. Distributed by Firefly Books. CIP

Subject Heading:
Learning disabled children-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-10

Reviewed by Gillian M. Noonan

Volume 20 Number 2
1994 March/April

Johnny has cerebral palsy. To his family and friends, he is just a happy boy who has difficulty communicating verbally. School presents special problems for Johnny until Debbie, who also has cerebral palsy, arrives. The two discover that they can communicate with each other through their thoughts. Their friendship grows and one night they find themselves visited by aliens who also communicate through thoughts. These aliens leave Johnny and Debbie with a gift which frees them from their wheelchairs.

Walker, himself afflicted with cerebral palsy, has presented young readers with an opportunity to understand what it might be like to be different from one's peers and unable to communicate verbally. The true nature of the gift that the aliens give Johnny and Debbie may lead to thoughtful discussion of the power of imagination. Steiner's soft water-colours sensitively portray the physical problems experienced by Johnny and Debbie.

For many children, the presence of a classmate with cerebral palsy or similar limitation may be commonplace; however, there may be many questions and misconceptions that need to be addressed. A book such as In Other Words could be the vehicle to promote the necessary discussion.

In Other Words is an excellent choice for its portrayal of the disabled and their abilities. Children in the upper Primary and lower elementary grades should enjoy this story.

Gillian Martin Noonan is a teacher-librarian living in Old Perlican, Newfoundland.
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