4 out of 4 stars
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SuperClara – A Young Girl’s Story of Cancer, Bravery and Courage by Robert Martin and Keira Ely is an illustrated children’s book about Clara, a young girl diagnosed with brain cancer. Clara is five years old; she prides herself on being positive, even in situations that can be scary or uncertain. Clara’s diagnosis means she will have to have surgery, followed by radiation therapy and a strict medication regiment. After undergoing radiation therapy, Clara finds she’s gained a new power: she can talk with animals. She uses this power to help animals who find themselves in similar situations as those Clara experienced when she underwent her journey with cancer.
The author deals with a very serious topic in this book. Most notably, the author uses this book to tackle the scary feelings all people, especially children, would feel in Clara’s situation. For example, Clara deals with anxiety about what her friends will think of her new appearance when she loses her hair after undergoing radiation therapy. These feelings were especially well dealt with because the author did not try to sugarcoat Clara’s experience but focused on staying positive instead. Rather than fear what her friends may think, Clara uses her new appearance as an opportunity to help her young friends understand her journey with cancer.
The narrative does a wonderful job describing the many aspects of cancer treatment in a way which will be understood by the intended audience, and most importantly, the book answers the ‘why’ questions many children will ask. Clara finds answers to questions like why she has to take medicine, and why this happened to her. Instead of just accepting things for what they are, this book successfully conveys the truth behind this terrible disease. Further, this book is incredibly honest, like when Clara’s mother explains to her that no one knows why she got cancer; she just did. I was impressed with the author’s ability to speak to children through this book in a respectful and informative tone, despite their young ages.
The illustrations, created by Dave Drotleff, nicely complement the narrative with their vibrant, pastel colors and coherent message. Clara is portrayed as a normal young girl in the drawings, which helps hone in on the author’s message that children who are diagnosed with cancer are just like any other child and should not be treated any differently. Further, the illustrations are detailed enough to draw the eye, and each illustration correlates with the words on their corresponding page, adding to the narrative.
I was impressed with the author’s ability to handle such a difficult topic and create a storybook aimed to explain this scary disease to a young audience. There is nothing to dislike about the book, and the author’s delightful message will surely help young children better understand what it is like to live with cancer. I rate SuperClara 4 out of 4 stars. The writing in this book is juvenile and aimed towards a young audience; therefore, I would recommend this book be read aloud to children age three to seven. I further recommend that this book be read with an adult as children may have questions about Clara’s journey.
SuperClara - A Young Girl's Story of Cancer, Bravery and Courage
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