Bosch and Sala relate the accomplishments of Pablo Pineda, a white Spanish boy who became the first European with Down syndrome to graduate from university.
In an awkward framing device, an anonymous child relates to readers what a teacher told a class about Pineda. After Pineda’s parents learned he had Down syndrome (which is described not as a developmental disability but as “special abilities”), they insisted on encouraging his independence and sending him to mainstream schools. In high school, his humor won him friends despite occasional teasing, and he graduated as “the best student in his year.” Despite loneliness, he attended university and obtained a teaching degree. Pineda’s skill with language netted him further work as a speaker, author, and award-winning actor. Pineda is seldom depicted without a book, emphasizing his desire to learn. However, the simple text literally and figuratively pales against Álvarez’s color-saturated pastel illustrations; on dark backgrounds, the words are barely visible. Though Pineda’s accomplishments and strong positive influences offer encouragement, the breezy assertion that he “didn’t believe anything was impossible, and simply achieved his goals” somewhat glosses over the work such achievements required. Readers struggling with learning difficulties, in particular, may be left wanting more concrete details of how he achieved those goals.
A disappointingly vague tale of achievement in the face of low expectations. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)