________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 17. . . .January 6, 2012


Emily Included: A True Story.

Kathleen McDonnell.
Toronto, ON: Second Story Press, 2011.
126 pp., pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 978-1-926920-33-7.

Subject Headings:
Eaton, Emily-Juvenile literature.
Children with disabilities-Canada-Juvenile literature.
Children with disabilities-Education-Canada-Juvenile literature.
Inclusive education-Canada-Juvenile literature.
Mainstreaming in education-Canada-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Tanya Boudreau.

*** /4



Bob's words hit Emily like a shocking blow. At times she'd felt ignored or excluded by her classmates, and she'd been the subject of hurtful teasing like Freddy's. But she'd never experienced the kind of outright cruelty that Bob was describing. As he spoke, it became clear that he had endured this kind of treatment many times when he was growing up. Once he learned to use the communication board, and was able to put his thoughts into words, he noticed that people treated him differently, and took him more seriously. But with or without the communication board, he knew that, inside, he was still the same person.

"People think that because a person can't speak, they don't have anything to say," Bob said. "But you and I know that's not true, don't we?" He fixed his gaze on Emily as he said this.


Emily Eaton fought for her right to be in a regular classroom; she was born with cerebral palsy, but she didn't want to go to a school for children with disabilities. To attend grade one at Maple Avenue School, Emily and her family only needed permission from the principal, but, if she wanted to stay for grade four, she would need approval from the courts. Emily's story begins in 1993 when she's going into school and ends in 2010, long after she's graduated from high school. Although the story isn't narrated by Emily, her emotions and thoughts are communicated by the author ("Toward the end of grade one, Emily began to sense that something was going on—some kind of disagreement between her parents and the school."). Emily showed great determination from a young age. Doctors thought she would never sit up, walk or feed herself. She proved them wrong. At school, she showed an enthusiasm for learning and a willingness to make friends. In court, she endured discomfort from surgery to show her support for the case ("Emily knows that this is an important decision/Not just for her but for all children with disabilities."), and when visiting China for her brother's wedding, she didn't let stairs or non-wheelchair accessible buildings prevent her from touring the Forbidden City. Throughout this book, children will see how the students and teachers included Emily in the class work and what they did to make her feel calm if she became overwhelmed. Black and white photographs and excerpts from Emily's communication book from school are included in many of the short chapters. A message from Emily and the author appear at the end of the story.


Tanya Boudreau is a librarian at the Cold Lake Public Library in Cold Lake, AB.

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

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