In Jesse’s Shoes – Perfect Picture Book

In Jesse’s Shoes: Appreciating Kids With Special Needs

Beverly Lewis, Author

Laura Nikiel, Illustrator

Bethany House Publishers, Fiction, 2007

Suitable for:  Ages 4 and up

Themes:  Appreciating a sibling with special needs,  embarrassment,  teasing, acceptance, friendship.

Opening/SynopsisEvery day I walk my brother to his bus at the corner.  It’s not far, but it takes a long time because Jesse gets distracted by things like rain puddles, honeysuckle blossoms, and even ladybugs — which bugs me a lot.”  Allie walks with her older brother, Jesse, to the school bus stop every morning and endures his distractions, and the teasing and giggling of the other kids waiting for the bus.  She wonders to herself “Why didn’t I get a regular brother?”  She loves Jesse, but is frustrated and tired of being embarrassed by him.  Allie feels terrible about her feelings.  One  day Jesse meets Allie and tells her to put on his large shoes and instructs her to “do what Jesse does.”  Allie follows Jessie  and discovers the wonders of his world that she has not noticed.  That day changes Alli forever.

Why I like this book:  Beverly Lewis has written a story with a powerful message about acceptance for children.  I like that she told the story from Allie’s viewpoint.  Laura Nikiel’s illustrations are bright, colorful and filled with expression.  There are many children who have a sibling with a special need.  Like Allie, siblings deal with  emotions ranging from love to embarrassment.  It’s important that they have a way to express how they feel to someone who will listen.  Beverly Lewis comes up with a very creative way of helping Allie see life as Jesse does.   This is a good book for home or at school.  Activity:  Have students discuss what it means to “walk in someone else’s shoes” before you read the book.  Encourage them think of examples of people to share.  After you read the book,  have each child write a letter to Jesse to tell him what they learned from his story.

For those who want more information about siblings and special needs families, please go to Sibshops. They have developed a flexible curriculum that provides much-needed peer support and a safe place for kids to talk about their feelings and experiences.  The workshops are always a good balance of fun, friendship and support and help build a network of friendship and resources.  The Sibshop curriculum is used throughout the United States, Canada, England, Ireland, Iceland, Japan, New Zealand, Guatemala, Turkey, and Argentina.  Thank you Cathy Mealey for the information about this site.

To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.  Or click on the Perfect Picture Book Fridays  badge in the right sidebar.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

60 thoughts on “In Jesse’s Shoes – Perfect Picture Book

  1. Patricia, that is lovely. Showing the frustration first that kids relate to and then empathy. It sounds wonderful.

  2. It sounds like you picked another winner, Pat. This book sounds great, and really needed for kids who have a sibling with special needs. It must be very difficult to be the sibling. I like that it’s told from the sibling’s POV and that the author finds a way to model a solution for kids in this position. Great suggestion for an activity, too. (And I have posted your link!)

    • Thanks Susanna. It is difficult for siblings. I thought the author’s approach was a wonderful solution for the situation. And, the sister discovers a new and interesting world.

  3. Pat, this sounds like a really wonderful book. I, too, like that it is told from the sister’s point of view. Sometimes we forget about the sibling because the focus is on the child with special needs.

  4. I love the idea of stepping into someone’s shoes and really trying to see the world the way they do. It is especially wonderful when the person you’re emulating is someone who finds joy and fascination in things that the average person overlooks. This is why I look forward to Fridays lately! Thank you!!

    • Craig, thank you for your thoughtful comment. I liked the idea of stepping into someone’s shoes and seeing the world throught their eyes. Powerful message. And, she was so surprised at what she learned. Thanks for the compliment.

  5. Great choice of POV, I find it hard to imagine how difficult it must be to be a young sibling to someone with a special need and dealing with the guilt an annoyance as well as love and desire to protect. This has such a positive creative solution, and of course the message of walking in another’s shoes is universal.

  6. I always know that I’ll find a profound and satisfying book when I come to your blog, Pat. This one sounds excellent. It’s so good to address the negative feelings that I’m sure every sibling of a special needs child has, along with the guilt for having these feelings. I am glad that it is Jesse himself who helps Allie to understand — that is so much better than having an adult explain the importance of “trying to be understanding”. Thank you, Pat!

    • Beth, you are always flattering. It is a great point of view, and I thought it was great that Jessie wanted her to understand how he sees things. There are some other surprises too. Hard not to tell too much.

  7. This sounds like a book I must read for understanding my nephews with special needs. It sounds like it teaches so many lessons without preaching to the choir. It sounds like it would be good to read as writers of picture books, too.

    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  8. I love any book that highlights special needs children because not everyone faces the same challenges. It’s important for kids to understand this so that they grow up with a bigger view of how the world really works and that there are some who require more help than others.

  9. This book sounds delightful. I have a special needs child. I am writing a picture book about him. I am sure you know I’ll be purchasing this one. Thanks for highlighting it this week. 🙂

    • Robyn, glad you liked the book. Every week I have several people comment that they have a child, or neice/nephew with special needs. Wish these books were around when my kids were growing up.

  10. I am amazed by the unpretentious accuracy of children’s books sometimes. They’re like a haiku: able to illustrate a point in the most stripped-down way possible.

    This one sounds wonderful. There are a lot of resources for parents of special needs children, but I wish I coud have read this book when I was a child growing up with a special needs sister. It was an experience like no other: embarrassment, frustration, sometimes resentment, and a lot of love. It’s so important to remember that siblings find the whole experience just as confusing as parents do.

    • Meaghan, thank you so much for your thoughtful input. I really appreciate your POV growing up with a sister with special needs. Can’t imagine how confusing it is for siblings. Again, your comments are valuable.

  11. I love your book choice Pat!

    For those reading this post who want more information about siblings and special needs families, please go to Sibshops are “pedal-to-the-metal celebrations of the many contributions made by brothers and sisters of kids with special needs.”

    The Sibshop curriculum is used throughout the United States, Canada, England, Ireland, Iceland, Japan, New Zealand, Guatemala, Turkey, and Argentina.

    Sibshops validate the experiences of brother or sister of a person with special needs, acknowledging that for some it is a good thing, others a not-so-good thing, and for many, somewhere in-between. This book sounds like a wonderful addition for Sibshop facilitators to add to their program!

    • Cathy, I really appreciate your posting the support group information. Looked at Sibshops and it sounds like a wonder peer support system for siblings and families. Will take a closer look at the curriculum. I’m glad you liked my book choice. I was surprised Beverly Lewis had written a children’s books, since she is so known for her Amish books.

    • Cathy, thanks for this great resource! I’m in the process of starting a disability-related nonprofit (inspired by my special needs sister), and this group just moved to the top of my list of people I’d like to reach out to for support and encouragement.

      • I am so glad the information is useful to you!

        I think Sibshops has developed a terrific, flexible curriculum that provides much needed peer support and a safe place for kids to talk about their feelings and experiences. The workshops are always a good balance of fun, friendship and support and help build a network of friendship and resources.

  12. The books you share make me so emotional. This one sounds great. I love and appreciate an author who can find a special way to share these kinds of stories. Fabulous choice today Pat.

    • Tracy, it really is a great book. I’m glad you enjoyed it. And it does giving new meaning to “walk a mile in my shoes.” Allie is very surprised with her experience.

  13. Thank you so much for this resource, Pat. I have nephews with special needs and I always struggle to find the words to help my kids understand their cousins. I love books like this that can be jumping off points in talking about real emotions and real situations that sometimes escape our understanding.

  14. Wonderful book and great message Pat. You seem to know just how to review a book in such a way that we are so drawn in. Like everyone here, I loved that it was from the sisters POV. It really tells it like it is. Thankyou so much for sharing Pat and your Blog is certainly getting known to be a very helpful site with excellent resources. Very cool Pat.

  15. Wow! What a powerful sounding book. It sounds like a good one for adults, too. I’m definitely looking for this to read to my class. Thanks!
    Thanks also for leaving so many lovely comments on my blog. It took me awhile to find yours 🙂

    Grade ONEderful

  16. Once again, you pick a lovely, thoughtful, respectful book, Pat. To offer a different perspective on this topic, my oldest son, Ben, does not like books or media that present the idea of the sibling of a high needs child being embarrassed or ashamed because of who their brother or sister is. Both of my younger sons would be considered special needs if they were in school (Since they aren’t in school we’ve chosen not to pursue a medical diagnosis. They’re healthy and learning so we haven’t seen the need) and Ben has told me that he is not embarrassed or frustrated by who they are. He loves them unconditionally and is a great advocate for them when needed as we are out and about. I do think there is a need for gentle books like this, I just wanted to share that not every sibling feels this way. Thank you!

    • Heather thank you. I’m so glad that you liked my choice. It is a lovely book with a great message. Thanks for sharing your message about your son and how he views his brother. You’ve done well as a parent to have such a loving and independent thinker. Can’t remember if you read my review on “Following Ezra.” I didn’t go into a lot of detail about how Ezra’s brother’s felt — and probably should have. Like your son, they just see Ezra as Ezra. I’m glad to know that your son is such an advocate for his siblings.

  17. I also forwarded your blog to a friend of mine who teaches a SPED preschool class. I thought she could use it for classroom books or as a resource for parents.

    • Heather, thank you for forwarding my blog. I really need to make an effort to make specal education teaches and parent support groups aware of the resources I review. As you may know, my blog is focused on many different issues. So I appreciate your making it known. I have a couple of doctors who recommend my blog to patients who are dealing with a variety of issues. By the way, meant to say I’m glad you stay away from labeling. I continue to meet more individuals weekly on my blog who have a child, nephew, granddaughter with a special needs.

  18. Pat…we can always count on you to provide a wonderful PPBF choice and fabulous resources. 🙂
    I LOVE the “walk in someone else’s shoes” concept…very powerful….and eye-opening for the walker!

    • Vivian, I am happy you enjoyed the book. It applies really to any special need child, because it doesn’t label what is going on with the child. The concept was unique!

    • The books is a fresh approach for children to experience another child’s world. And the book didn’t label what was going on with Jesse. It really is applicable to any child, any situation.

  19. I am anxious to read this book. We often care the for the special needs child, but do not think of the siblings. I appreciate any book that deals with bullying as our students need to be able to discuss ways of handling situations.
    Thanks for your comments on my blog. I so appreciate them. Blessings –

    • Mary Helen, glad you enjoyed “In Jesse’s Shoes.” It really doesn’t label the kid, so it could be any kid that may be perceived as different. Even the bullys learn something in this book. Thanks for stopping.

  20. Hi Pat, this looks like a really beautiful book. Have you read/reviewed Patricia Polacco’s Junkyard Wonders? I have a feeling you’d love this book as well since it’s semi-autobiographical and it also talks about special needs children. 🙂

    • Myra, no I haven’t review Patricia Polacco’s “Junkyard Wonders.” She is one of my favorite children’s authors. I have seen her on several occasions over the years. Will check it out. Thank you! Glad you liked my selection.

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