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Mommy, What Is That For? – Book Review

Mommy, What Is That For? – Book Review

Mommy, What Is That For? is the debut children’s book written by Carolyn Powell. This book is particularly dear to me as Carolyn is a personal friend and it’s illustrated by yours truly! The book stems from Carolyn’s extraordinary life experiences and I’d like to share her-story before launching into the review.

To begin, Carolyn is a fighter. Four years ago, her heart stopped due to a genetic condition called Long QT Syndrome. She awoke one summer night to her 2-year-old son, Landon, crying and got out of bed to check on him. Some time later her husband, Luke, noticed that Landon was still crying. He got up to make sure everything was okay and their lives have never been the same… Luke found Carolyn unresponsive, she was not breathing and had no pulse. He quickly called 911 and started CPR until the paramedics arrived. At the hospital doctors were able to restart her heart but her prognosis was very poor. She’d gone approximately 15-20 minutes without oxygen and the neurologist warned that even if she survived, Carolyn would never be the same. Her family was told to expect major brain damage and that she would most likely spend the rest of her life in a long term care facility. Little did they know how much Carolyn was capable of!

Carolyn spent the next 3 weeks in the intensive care unit where a cutting edge medical technology called therapeutic hypothermia helped to save her life, and her brain. Once stabilized she was moved to a rehabilitation hospital to re-learn the most basic tasks: walking, dressing, and eating. She made slow but steady progress and defied the dire odds stacked against her. After months of intense physical rehabilitation she finally came home and set to work rebuilding their life.

Over the course of her recovery, Carolyn depended on many different devices starting with a wheelchair and progressing to a walker and a cane. Despite her physical limitations, she was determined to be as normal as possible – for her own sake and the sake of her two young boys. She addressed her disability candidly and taught her boys about the different devices without stigma or embarrassment. When Landon started preschool, she marched him into class each day just like the other mothers – only she pushed a walker. As she passed his classmates, they frequently turned to their own mothers to ask about her walker. Some parents quietly explained what it was for, while others became visibly uncomfortable and tried to shush their curious (and sometimes loud) children. Carolyn quickly recognized that these were teaching opportunities – a natural chance to introduce children to the disabilities people have and the tools that support them. This was the start of Mommy, What Is That For?

When it comes to teaching young children, books and pictures can be very helpful. Unfortunately few children’s books address the topic of physical disabilities. Mommy, What Is That For? is a simple, educational story designed to introduce this topic to a preschool audience. In the story, Carolyn and her boys, Landon and Parker, take a trip to the mall and encounter people using all different devices to help them walk, see, and hear. Each page highlights a different device including a wheelchair, walker, cane, eyeglasses, hearing aids, crutches, cast, braces and a therapy dog. It helps familiarize children with the different tools they may encounter by explaining each device and how it functions. This simple, straightforward story is easy for a child to grasp and short enough to hold their attention. However, its value is more than just the story itself. It provides a starting point for parents and teachers to initiate a conversation with their children about disabilities. It’s a perfect opportunity to address questions or fears they may have, to teach children how to approach people with disabilities and to understand that people with disabilities are very much like you and me! Mommy, What Is That For? is a helpful addition to your home or school library. I hope it gives you the opportunity to discuss this important topic with your own children!

Mommy, What Is That For? is currently available on Kindle and Nook. Click on the following links to check it out!

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