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Children are the Future of our Society

Esther Robinson Author Interview

A little bit Extraordinary follows Juliette as she explains Down’s syndrome and promotes acceptance and diversity. Why was this an important book for you to write?

Children are the future of our society and I feel it’s important to teach them the importance of being kind, considerate and understanding. This way of being is simple and achievable and can make a huge positive impact on people’s lives. My older brother, Martin, has an ultra-rare genetic syndrome called WAGR. Growing up, I was saddened by people bullying him, making assumptions about his capabilities and by him being made to attend a different school to me. Our family connected with other families whose children had various disabilities, including Down’s syndrome. I was such a shy, reserved child and I was taken aback by the open display of affection from the children I met with Down’s syndrome; they seemed free to be who they wanted to be. I saw they had individual personalities with different traits and abilities, but other people who did not mix with people with disabilities did not necessarily understand this. Down’s syndrome affects many more people than WAGR, so focusing my book on Down’s syndrome enabled me to reach more people as they would be able to identify with the character and themes of the book more easily. I also felt that many people did not know the cause of Down’s syndrome and that this book would explain it in a simplistic way, helping to reduce prejudice and judgment, thereby encouraging understanding, acceptance and integration in education and the community.

What is a common misconception you feel people have about Down’s syndrome?

People may assume people with a disability such as Down’s syndrome are unable to contribute to society, that they don’t have any skills or talents to share with the community and ostracise them. People may assume they are stupid or don’t understand what people are saying, and think they don’t feel hurt when someone is unkind to them or bullies them. This was why it was important to introduce the theme of empathy into my book.

I loved the art in this book. What was the art collaboration like with illustrator Grainne Knox?

Gráinne was enamoured with my book idea, really believing in it having an important purpose, so I knew she would put her heart and soul into it. Gráinne paid great attention to the words I had written, so she came up with picture ideas for the stanzas that really reflected the meaning of the words. If there were no words in the book, I feel the pictures would convey the story. Gráinne was a pleasure to work with – very accommodating – and came up with great ideas. I gave her ideas on what I thought Juliette should look like and with some small changes I feel we got her appearance just right. When it came to an idea for a picture to go with the stanza on how Juliette does things differently, Gráinne put out a request on social media for ideas and a mum of a child who has a disability suggested the child lining items up in rows, while a nurse who works with children with disabilities suggested the use of Makaton, so Gráinne combined those two ideas into one picture.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from your book?

The understanding that kindness, compassion, empathy and love enable people to live in harmony with one another and put this into practice in their daily lives.

Author Links: Facebook | Website |estherrobinson.co.uk

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A little bit EXTRAORDINARY encourages empathy and understanding while highlighting the importance of integration in schools and communities.
This story helps young readers to understand Down’s syndrome in simple terms. This book is an excellent resource for every parent, primary school and preschool and aims to help children to celebrate difference, cultivate a caring community and prevent bullying.
This book will help parents and teachers to see the potential in all children. Seeing beyond limitations and labels applied in society, adults will be more open to recognising talents and skills that children are showing, or may be shy at demonstrating, and can then help to nurture and develop these gifts.
This book teaches that when a decision is made from a place of love, it is always the right one. It also emphasises that following your joy brings fulfilment and happiness.

A little bit EXTRAORDINARY

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A little bit Extraordinary is a children’s picture book that follows a cute young girl named Juliette who has Down’s syndrome. Throughout the book readers learn what Down’s syndrome is and helps readers learn that we’re all different, which is what makes us special. This is a beautiful story told in rhyme that promotes acceptance and celebrates diversity.

I loved this charming book. This book explains the physical differences in someone with Down’s syndrome as well as the science behind the differences. It does so easily so that anyone can understand it. Even as an adult I found this book educational as I wasn’t fully aware of what causes the syndrome and the effects it has on people. I was so wrapped up in the story and learning about Juliette that I didn’t realize the story is told in rhyme because it flowed so easily. The story discusses topics such as bullying, recognizing and celebrating differences, and showing kindness. The illustrations are exceptional, with bright colorful images on each page that provide context to the words.

I recommend this book to parents, teachers, and even adults, like me, who don’t know much about Down’s syndrome. There are more than a dozen talking points provided at the end of the book. This really highlights the major benefit this book has; it begins a discussion. Whether you know someone with Down’s syndrome or not I highly recommend reading this with your child so that you are both knowledgeable and ready to accept anyone for who they are.

 

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