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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
It’s sad when you think about it that in this day and age of knowledge at one’s fingertips, people are still afraid of the unknown. Take, for example, sickle cell disease. It’s not like a bacterial or viral infection that will spread from one person or another. It’s a genetic disease; something one inherits from their parents. Young Kayla has sickle cell disease. At her old school, her classmates understood and supported her. But she’s off to a new school with new classmates. And they don’t understand the disease. They think that because Kayla is away from school a lot and sometimes hospitalized, they’ll catch the disease from her and end up as sick as she is. Most of the time, though, Kayla’s fine. As long as she eats well and doesn’t overdo physical activity. The fear amongst her new classmates makes them avoid Kayla and that makes her sad. Because Kayla is really just like any other child. And all she wants is to be accepted like the others, to make friends.
Jaime Mahaffey and Kristy High’s picture book story, I’m No Different Than You, introduces young readers to diseases and conditions that can make someone different in a way, but not really different. This story focuses on sickle cell disease. The plot evolves as Kayla tries to fit in at her new school and is met with fear and avoidance from her new classmates. The climax is reached when the class is taught about sickle cell disease and they realize that Kayla really is just like them, only she has inherited a condition that sometimes makes her very sick. The book is well illustrated, which complements the story. Kayla is developed almost to superhero status, and the author shares some details about Kayla’s disease in the story and gives more detailed information at the end of the book. This is a wonderful way to introduce young readers to different conditions which may affect an individual without really making them any different from the rest of us.