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Susan Laughs Hardcover – September 1, 2000

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Susan Laughs + Don't Call Me Special: A First Look at Disability (First Look at Books) + A Rainbow of Friends
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 2
  • Lexile Measure: 110L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (September 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805065016
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805065015
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.4 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #407,363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

PreSchool-Grade 1-Through simple rhyming phrases, readers learn about the many things that a young redheaded girl can do: "Susan trots,/Susan rows,/Susan paints,/Susan throws." With great color and movement, the pencil-and-crayon illustrations depict this spirited child in her everyday world. She rides a swing with her father, plays a trick on her grandma, and boils with anger when her cat scratches her face. Abundant details such as patterned wallpaper and funny portraits on walls add interest to each scene. By the end of the story, children will identify completely with Susan, who is "through and through-/just like me, just like you," even if she happens to use a wheelchair, as shown in the final illustration. Thus, the story focuses on her abilities rather than on the things by which she is limited. This book works for sharing one-on-one, for smaller storytimes, and for classroom use.
Linda M. Kenton, San Rafael Public Library, CA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Without being condescending or preachy, the words, pictures, and design of this very simple picture book show that a physically disabled child is "just like me, just like you." Only on the very last page do we discover that Susan uses a wheelchair. Before that, the simple, rhyming words and active crayon-and-pencil pictures show her in a succession of ordinary scenarios that every preschooler will recognize. Susan laughs. Susan sings. Susan's good. Susan's bad. She's mad. She's shy. She swims. She swings. She sulks. She's scared. The show and tell works. Children will enjoy seeing their common feelings and experiences. They'll be surprised by that wheelchair at the end; and then they'll accept their connection with the child who they've come to know is "just like me." Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 18 customer reviews
The pictures are great - very expressive.
S. J. Meyer
Every parent of small children and every school librarian should read this book aloud to their kids at the earliest age possible, before the prejudice seeps in.
A Customer
Susan is just like everyone else; at the end of the book the reader discovers that Susan is in a wheelchair.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 62 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I have cerebral palsy and almost cried after reading this book. I wish it had been around when I was in elementary school. Things might have been much easier and less painful.
There are scores of books out there that aim to educate about people/children with disabilities, but they haven't achieved this with such simple clarity as _Susan Laughs_ reveals. Most of these other books, while they certainly educate about the disabilities and may make them less intimidating for children, never really tell us about the CHILD. There are always words like "special" in the title or the end message of the book, and I've always been careful about that word. "Special" in this context just seems to highlight the fact that someone uses a wheelchair or crutches or the like, and such overuse of the word may impart to other children that the way disabled children do things is so far from theirs that they can't relate. Also, some of these books portray disabilities as curiosities. I'm all for perceiving a disability as a unique *trait* of an individual, but too often, what these books give is an image of someone to *help*, rather than someone to befriend spontaneously. As an example, I've read reviewers of other books who stated that after a class read the book, the kids argued over who would get to help her child. This just seems a little distancing to me, as if the child is a project rather than a true friend.
_Susan Laughs_, on the other hand, really introduces a delightful little girl. (When I read picture books to kids, I treat the characters as people for them to meet.) It tells about her interests and personality, offset by vivid and quirky illustrations, and NOT ABOUT HER DISABILITY!
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By loce_the_wizard VINE VOICE on September 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The author and illustrator have done a wonderful job with this show-and-tell story that details all the ways Susan is just like anyone else---until her "difference" is confirmed at the very end.
Obviously aimed at the younger readers, the book's subtle message could be lost on some of the small fry unless an adult spends a moment explaining to them what the real message of the story. I would love to know, too, how many adults can guess the ending. I suspect that unless they are the parents or caretakers of a disabled child, that they too may be surprised. I especially liked the pages showing Susan dancing with her granddad, getting in trouble, and playing with other kids.
Though concepts such as diversity and inclusion are relentlessly idolized today, the truth is children---and adults---with physical disabilities remain needlessly excluded through both physical and social barriers. In that regard, this gentle book, which can only help open doors for the disabled, is recommended reading for every person with a heart and mind. The best part is that it may change how you react next time you meet a child in a wheelchair.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By S. J. Meyer on January 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful Book! I have taken this book with me to every family I babysit for - Every child has asked me to read it again. The pictures are great - very expressive. This book is great for all children. What is great is that each child I babysit for has had a different reaction to the final picture (The only picture of Susan in a wheelchair). Some older children have told me about a kid in their grade who uses a wheelchair, some of the younger kids show no surprise whatsever - to them Susan really is no different anyway!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Library Gaga on November 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The perfect marriage of art and words, Susan Laughs blends pastel crayon illustrations and two-words-a-page text into a delightful read. With such meager text, the book relies on the illustrations. Somehow the pictures seem European, and when one discovers that the author and illustrator are both from England, it confirms the impression. Susan's piquant face and the idyllic landscapes remind me of the Madeline series, with softer colors.

The plotless `story' follows Susan through school days, home days, park visits and pony rides: "Susan trots, Susan rows, Susan paints, Susan throws". Only on the last page do we discover why this is a special needs book - Susan uses a wheelchair. The message is brought home, "That is Susan through and through - just like me, just like you." I was compelled to backtrack through the book looking for pictures of Susan doing all these things. In none of them is she standing unassisted, but the reader doesn't notice any of this until it's brought into focus in the final panel. Does one's opinion of Susan's abilities change after learning this? Not really, and that's why the book succeeds.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Melissa K. Muir on November 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I personally found Susan Laughs to be a wonderful book and an excellent addition to any classroom. The book itself is fun to read with rhyming words and expressive pictures. Children would easily be engaged by the rhythm of the text and the interest created by the illustrations.

The purpose of this book is to show that the character, Susan, is like all children, she is good, she is bad, she is strong, she is weak. I appreciate the perspective of her that is developed of her leading up the last page. Of course, the last page of the book reveals that Susan actually had a wheelchair.

I think this book could be used as an excellent tool to facilitate conversations in a classroom about a child that may be coming to your classroom that uses a wheelchair. The book could also be easily tailored to talk specifically about a particular child by simply changing the name as your read the story.

I would encourage all teachers to include books such as Susan Laughs in their classroom library regardless of whether they have a student in their class that uses a wheelchair or not.
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