________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 5 . . . . October 28, 2005


Lilly Makes a Friend. (First Novels, 29).

Brenda Bellingham. Illustrated by Clarke MacDonald.
Halifax, NS: Formac, 2004.
62 pp., pbk. & cl., $5.95 (pbk.) $14.95 (cl.).
ISBN 0-88780-624-4 (pbk.), ISBN 0-88780-625-2 (cl.).

Subject Headings:
Blind - Juvenile fiction.
Helping behavior - Juvenile fiction.

Grade 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

*** /4


“Maybe you can play soccer when you’re older, Davy,” Heathrow says.

“Why can’t I play now?” Davy asks.

“I’m sorry, Davy, but you can’t see the ball,” Kendall says.

He isn’t being mean; it’s the truth.

Davy hangs his head.“Some guys play ice hockey,” I say. “They use a puck that makes a noise. We need a ball like that.”

“I already have one, “ Davy says. “My dad bought it for me. It jingles.”

“Great,” I say. “Bring it to school.”


Today’s schools and classrooms contain children with a much greater range of abilities than was the case in earlier years. And so it is that Lilly, a grade schooler, encounters Davy, a blind kindergardener. Davy wants to do things like other children, and those activities include “seeing” worms and playing soccer, especially scoring a goal. While the title says that “Lilly makes a friend,” there are times when Lilly wishes that she was not Davy’s friend as his behaviors get her into trouble, such as when he takes the worms she has given him to “see” and later places them in the kindergarten girls’ snacks or when he kicks a soccer ball into the belly of another student. Davy’s former act earns Lilly an admonition from Davy’s helper, Mrs. Laski: “You’re older than Davy,” she says. “You should know better than to let him play with worms.” Davy’s ball-to-the-gut kick also generates another reprimand for Lilly, this time from the principal. At the book’s end, Davy accomplishes his goal of scoring his first soccer goal.

     While the plot of Lilly Makes a Friend is somewhat thin, the book unobtrusively provides young children with information about the blind, including appropriate etiquette:

“Hi Davy,” I say. “I’m Lilly.” It’s good manners to tell him who we are when we talk to him, our teacher says. He can’t remember every voice in the school.”


“Take my arm,” I say. “We’ll go play with my friends.” It’s cool to let a blind person take your arm, but of you take his, he feels like he’s being pushed around.”

     Similarly, Bellingham slips in information about adjustments that are made for the blind so that they can play games available to the sighted. (See “excerpt” above.)

     Each of the book’s 10 short chapters contains at least one of MacDonald’s cartoon-like, black and white illustrations. Perhaps to underline Davy’s similarities to other children, rather than to point out his differences, MacDonald does not always illustrate Davy with a cane, and he never shows him wearing sunglasses.


Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children’s and YA literature at the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.


To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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