4 out of 4 stars
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Helix Gets His Wheels is a children's story about a tortoise who has to join a new classroom and fit in. While that in itself is a challenge, Helix isn't like the other students. He has a disability that could potentially stop him from being a part of the group. However, Helix is surrounded by kind-hearted peers who immediately want him to feel welcome and included.
What I liked about this book, written by Randal Betz Jr., is that the main character has a positive outlook regarding his physical limitations. Helix doesn't say, "I can't", when asked to play at recess. He responds that he may not be able to, but he will try. He is not discouraged by his situation, and because of this, his classmates continue to invite him to participate in new activities. It sends a message to kids that if they project an upbeat attitude, others will respond in kind.
The camaraderie between the other pupils and Helix is refreshing. In most children's books, there is a bully present and an 'us' against 'them' mentality. This situation doesn't exist in the plot, and that is another excellent attribute of this one. Teamwork and banding together to solve a conflict is the theme.
The writing is simple and most suited for pre-school to early elementary grades. I like the idea of reading this to a group of children so that a discussion could follow about how Helix was treated to foster compassion for others.
I only found one small mistake, so it seems that the writing has been thoroughly edited. There isn't anything about this tale that I didn't like.
I am awarding this 4 out of 4 stars. Along with its important message of acceptance and inclusion, the detailed illustrations will capture the attention of young ones. The author has also included still life photography and information about various species of turtles. These were the inspiration for the characters in his story.
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