Max the Champion ISBN: 9781847803887
Published by Frances Lincoln Childrens Books, 2013
Max is a smiley, happy boy who just loves sport. In fact, he is so involved that his everyday life is a series of imagining himself as the hero in a variety of sporting situations. Even at school he manages to draw a bowl full of sports gear rather than the bowl of fruit his teacher had in mind! When the school wins a sports tournament, he is a champion indeed and dreams about his accomplishments all night. A simple story, then, that sports-mad little boys will particularly enjoy. However, there is much more to the book than that, and the differences are so subtle and well thought through that it may take time for children to see what is going on. Max wears glasses and a hearing aid and also uses an asthma inhaler. His best friend uses a wheelchair, and the other children in school have a variety of disabilities: there is a girl with a patch over one eye, a boy with a leg brace, a child with cherubism, someone with an oxygen tube, a skier in a sit-down set of skis, and a cycler in one of those lying-down special bikes. On the street, we see two people using sign language, a man with a guide dog, and tactile paving. These details are made to seem so ordinary, so part of the scene, that children will absorb the rightness of it all with a minimum of effort. Inclusion is there for all to see, and the fact that all the children are involved in the sports tournament one way or another is the way things should always be. The illustrations show lots of happy children accepting each other and just being children, and there is lots of noise and colour and variety, just as there are in all the people around us. A really important book that belongs in every primary library, particularly after the great success of the paralympics last summer. It will encourage that interest in children and add greatly to the acceptance of disability.