Not so Different: What You Really Want to Ask About Having a Disability
Not so Different: What You Really Want to Ask About Having a Disability

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Annotation: With optimism and humor, a disabilities advocate addresses the most common questions he receives about living with spinal muscular atrophy, discussing his physical challenges, his everyday life, and his reliance on family and friends.
Genre: Biographies
Catalog Number: #160069
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2017
Edition Date: 2017
Illustrator: Carr, Matt,
Pages: 40
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-626-72771-6 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-1079-3
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-626-72771-7 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-1079-4
Dewey: 921
LCCN: 2016058267
Dimensions: 26 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Shane Burcaw was born with a disease called spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), which means he uses a wheelchair and is "just a little different." Here Shane openly invites the questions readers may have about him and other people with disabilities (Go ahead, ask me). The questions are posed in stark black-and-white speech bubbles on each page at's wrong with you? How do you do things? Can you climb stairs? d answered with blunt clarity and humor. Shane explains how SMA has affected his body, how his parents and brother have to help him with almost everything, how his wheelchair works (and how he can pop a wheelie in it), and how cruel comments hurt his feelings. The book is illustrated with photographs in which we see Shane posed in comical tableaus in all sorts of everyday situations, such as riding his home elevator known as the Shane-o-vator, and flopped in the grass while playing football with his friends. Readers get to know him on many levels as really not so different at all.
Kirkus Reviews
Burcaw (Laughing at My Nightmare, 2014) answers the 10 most common questions kids ask about his disability, spinal muscular atrophy. When kids ask, "What's wrong with you?" Burcaw, a white man in his 20s, replies, "Absolutely nothing is wrong with me. I'm just a little different!" With humor and candor, he answers questions ranging from "Why is your head so much bigger than the rest of your body?" to "How do you play with your friends?" In addition to learning about SMA, readers will discover how Burcaw gets around, plays football with friends, and eats pizza just as they might, except with the aid of a motorized wheelchair and the physical assistance of his parents and brother, who help him with "almost everything." Though many of Burcaw's chatty, straightforward explanations are specific to his own situation, some are more broadly applicable, such as "Please ask me before you touch [my wheelchair]!" Carr's close-up color photographs illustrate Burcaw's explanations by highlighting their humorous aspects—his brother dresses him in a silly outfit, a large-headed T. Rex provides a pep talk—and emphasizing his family's closeness. Photos of family vacations and goofing around with friends remind readers that Burcaw is, indeed, "not so different" from themselves. An author's note provides a more complex explanation of SMA as well as background on Burcaw's nonprofit, Laughing at My Nightmare. A candid, approachable resource for curious kids. (author's note) (Informational picture book. 6-10)
Publishers Weekly
Burcaw follows his YA memoir, Laughing at My Nightmare, with a picture book that offers an approachable and candid look at his life with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). Throughout, he answers some common questions people have about his life and appearance, such as, -But how do you do things?- and -How does your chair work?- Burcaw-s responses usually include a touch of humor, but he-s always firm and clear; in response to the opening question, -What is wrong with you?- he says: -Absolutely nothing is wrong with me. I-m just a little different!- Carr-s photographs provide readers the opportunity to truly get a sense of Burcaw-s life while also creating a few opportunities for silliness-in one spread, Burcaw uses his wheelchair and rope to hoist his brother up to a basketball hoop (something the brothers attempted in real life, resulting in a broken motor). An author-s note includes a more in-depth medical explanation of SMA, as well as information about Burcaw-s nonprofit organization. Ages 6-9. Author-s agent: Tina Wexler, ICM. Photographer-s agent: Michael Ginsburg & Associates. (Nov.)
School Library Journal
Gr 13Burcaw answers the most common questions he gets about having a disability. He was born with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), which makes his muscles grow weaker throughout his life and his body smaller as he ages. A range of questions, from "What's wrong with you?" to "How do you play with your friends," are answered in a concise yet thorough way. Burcaw takes a humorous approach towards each topic, such as comparing himself to a T. rex when discussing why his head is bigger than the rest of his body. Additionally, he describes his wheelchair as working with a joystick "sort of like a video-game controller." This ultimately serves to emphasize that though Burcaw may look different, he is a person whom kids can empathize with. The discussion of his family's help and how it feels to be made fun of will allow readers to more fully understand what it is like to live with a disability. The pages are visually pleasing, with brightly colored photographs of Burcaw accompanying bold graphics and speech bubbles. An author's note at the end goes into greater detail about SMA and Burcaw's work as a disability rights activist. VERDICT This slim book packs a punch and can serve as a good introduction for students about people with disabilities.Kathryn Justus, Renbrook School, West Hartford, CT
Word Count: 1,053
Reading Level: 4.1
Interest Level: 1-4
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.1 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 193585 / grade: Lower Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.6 / points:3.0 / quiz:Q72672
Lexile: 860L
Guided Reading Level: Q

Not So Different offers a humorous, relatable, and refreshingly honest glimpse into Shane Burcaw's life. Shane tackles many of the mundane and quirky questions that he's often asked about living with a disability, and shows readers that he's just as approachable, friendly, and funny as anyone else. Shane Burcaw was born with a rare disease called spinal muscular atrophy, which hinders his muscles' growth. As a result, his body hasn't grown bigger and stronger as he's gotten older--it's gotten smaller and weaker instead. This hasn't stopped him from doing the things he enjoys (like eating pizza and playing sports and video games) with the people he loves, but it does mean that he routinely relies on his friends and family for help with everything from brushing his teeth to rolling over in bed. A Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2017

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