A girl with cerebral palsy fights for the 1990 passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Whether she’s horseback riding or starting kindergarten, Jennifer Keelan’s “ready to GO!” But all around her, places and people demand that she “STOP!” From her wheelchair, a 4-inch curb is a “cliff,” and she’s not allowed to join her classmates in the cafeteria. Everything changes when Jennifer—knowing that “children with disabilities get ignored too”—joins a diverse group of disability rights activists. When Jennifer is 8, activists propose the ADA to “make room for all people, including those with disabilities.” Dismissed by Congress, disabled activists crawl up the steps of the Capitol to be heard. When grown-ups say she’s too young to participate, Jennifer drags herself “ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP” on behalf of disabled kids everywhere. Ali’s soft-focus illustrations deftly convey Jennifer’s determined scowl and excited grin. Pimentel realistically acknowledges that the ADA hasn’t fixed everything—“Slowest of all, minds have to change”—but in her foreword, the adult Jennifer—now Keelan-Chaffins—notes that she keeps “using [her] voice to speak up” and encourages readers to do likewise. Backmatter further discusses disabilities, the disability rights movement, and the ADA. Front- and backmatter seem geared toward older readers, who may find the main text a tad too simple; those wanting more information should follow this up with Amy Hayes’ Disability Rights Movement (2017). Jennifer and her family present white; classmates’ and activists’ races vary.
A necessary testament to the power of children’s voices. (notes, timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 4-10)