You Can!

You Can!
Alexandra Stick and Steve Antony
Otter-Barry Books

Here’s a book that began with children: those children from diverse backgrounds who responded to Alexandra Strickland’s question what they would say to their younger selves to inspire, reassure and enthuse them about the future. This wonderful book with Steve’s brilliantly inclusive illustrations using fourteen child characters, represents their answers.

We then follow these characters as they grow from babies (on the front endpapers), to toddlers, to young children, to older children and finally, into young adults (on the back endpapers). The cast of characters truly is diverse, as their wide variety of interests, identities, friendships and futures develop as readers turn the pages.

It’s definitely no holds barred: you can be anything you want, do anything you want (including ‘love a good picture book whatever your age’) hurrah! –

safe in the knowledge that it’s fine to be sad or angry, to talk about your feelings and discover what makes you happy.

Equally, it’s important to have big dreams and pursue them using whatever path it takes, be a leader or a follower, not forgetting to make time for playfulness and silliness along the way.

It’s important to realise that those fears of yesterday will be today’s challenges and tomorrow’s achievements, practice can be fun and learning should be enjoyable.

We see that seemingly small individual actions can inspire other people and together all those small somethings can and do make a difference. Equally though everybody has rights.

Not everybody needs to do things in the same way, but all honest ways must be equally valid: doing something differently is doing it nonetheless.

On this journey through life, it’s crucial to know that making mistakes is an integral part of the learning process; it’s important too, that you forgive yourself as well as others, and ask adults for help if you need. Be yourself, for yourself, determined, supportive, an individual who doesn’t allow others to categorise you, is kind and empathetic: self-belief is key probably now more than ever.

Hugely empowering and inspiring, this a book that needs to be in every home and classroom. Children and adults will love the gentle humour and playfulness in Steve’s illustrations: each spread deserves close study.

Inclusivity with Champion Max



Sport-mad Daniel enjoying the story

Max the Champion
Sean Stockdale, Alexandra Strick and Ros Asquith
Frances Lincoln pbk
Sports mad, Max dreams day and night of sporting triumphs. When he dashes downstairs for his breakfast he’s running a race in his mind; when he dives into his cereal,


it’s a swimming pool in is imagination; even his handwriting practice becomes an imaginary javelin event. Sport is always uppermost in his head and he always wins.
When his school participates in a sports tournament, Max’s dream of winning comes true: it’s the Champions Cup for his team. Max is a star!
It is only gradually that one becomes aware of just how many of Max’s class have special needs of one kind or another. Max himself wears glasses and uses an asthma inhaler and a hearing aid; his best pal is a wheelchair user, another child uses a leg brace, to name just some. And, on the classroom wall is a visual time-table.

Outside in the street too we see people going about their daily life –a pair are signing, somebody has a guide dog and there’s tactile paving at the crossing.
None of this is mentioned and at first glance you could miss much of what is going on, so subtle is the presentation. Throughout, the emphasis is on what the children (and others) are able to do; they look as though they are enjoying themselves wholeheartedly. Max himself couldn’t be a better advocate for inclusivity; his passion is all – look at his still life in the art display.


The authors have considerable expertise in special needs and are clearly passionate about inclusivity as their text demonstrates; not one word is spoken about any of the additional needs of the children (and adults) in the story. It’s left to Ros Asquith to show these in her humorous, detailed illustrations wherein Max’s flights of fancy are hilariously presented in thinks bubbles opposite the real events. Assuredly it’s a case of the more you look, the more you see: I love the visual word plays.
At least one copy of this fantastic book should be in every primary classroom.


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