My Travelin' Eye, kids picture bookBorn with eyes that look opposite ways, Jenny Sue is out of the ordinary, but thank heavens for her mom who loves her child and turns different into “creative!” Exploring the difficulties of a disability–kids laughing, calling names, and pointing, getting into trouble and enduring doctor’s appointments–first time author Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw adds a clever spin to the dilemma of living with misaligned eyes called “strabismus.”

Her travelin’ eye takes her to new places, navigating through adventures of numbers and colors. Think of what elements she would miss, had she not had a travelin’ eye to remind her to “smell the flowers, kiss the butterflies, and read the clouds.” With much apprehension, Jenny Sue visits the opthamologist, Dr.Dave, who declares her eye lazy and in need of waking up! He sent her home with big, thick glasses and a patch to cover her strong eye so the lazy one would strengthen. The author-illustrator takes us on a visual tour of what it is like to see through one weak eye. Floating letters on the blackboard set against blurry backgrounds make navigating Jenny Sue’s world challenging. After this brave little girl confides in her mom about her dilemma, her creative  mom gets busy making “fashion patches,” a new one for each day. Debuted to a classroom of peers, the patches are a hit. No sooner has she become a “patch” star, then Jenny Sue gets the news that her lazy eye has woken up. No need for patches, now she just sports one-of-a-kind glasses.

The real Jenny Sue, author and illustrator Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw, has written this endearing autobiographical story from a child’s perspective. Maybe that is why she doesn’t miss a step–what it feels and looks like to have a disability, how people react, what the steps are to get help from the doctor, and how to cleverly face being different to become included. Her punchy illustrations in collage bring a cheerful element to a challenging situation.

I highly recommend this book for parents, teachers and therapists to talk about being different, feelings, reactions, and including others. Use the story to encourage text to self and text to life comparisons. Have you ever been made fun of or been called a name because of being different? How did it feel? How should we treat kids that are different? Were you ever afraid to go to the doctor? How can we celebrate differences? Whenever you talk about the book in addition to reading it, you are building a child’s language skills as well as social skills as you model talking through situations for positive, creative solutions.