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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Mae is a little girl with cerebral palsy. She needs a walker to move around. She calls her walker Wendy. Although she needs Wendy to help her walk, Mae doesn’t need anyone to help her spirit fly with her wonderful imagination. She is like any other child: she can fly through space, ride a pirate ship, be a secret agent, tame the lions at the circus. All with Wendy in tow, not to help her, but as a friend.
Imagination is a wonderful gift for anyone, child or adult. Imagination is the power to overcome the difficulties of real life, whether these difficulties are physical disabilities like cerebral palsy, or difficulties dealing with life and people in general. Mae has a powerful imagination; it is a great gift. She also has the ability to realize when imagination isn’t needed. She honors herself for who she is. Mae is, after all, simply Mae.
Kyle Fiorelli’s picture book story, Simply Mae, is a beautiful way to create a world full of wonderful possibilities, not only for a child with disabilities, but any child. The story is told in rhyming verse, with a rhyme and an imaginative adventure for every day. Except Sunday. On Sunday, Mae is simply Mae. And what a wonderful thing it is to be simply oneself. The colorful illustrations are spectacular and help lead the story along. On each day, on each imaginative adventure, Wendy, Mae’s trusty walker, is there with her, but not in the sense of helping her. The girl holds Wendy like a treasured trophy. A powerful story that is sweet and charming.