I Am Not a Label

34 disabled artists, thinkers, athletes and activists from past and present

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Pub Date Jul 07 2020 | Archive Date Jun 18 2020

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* 2021 EUREKA! Nonfiction Children’s Honor Book

“An inclusive and upbeat collection ideal for classrooms and libraries.” – School Library Journal

In this stylishly illustrated biography anthology, meet 34 artists, thinkers, athletes, and activists with disabilities, from past and present. From Frida Kahlo to Stephen Hawking, find out how these iconic figures have overcome obstacles, owned their differences, and paved the way for others by making their bodies and minds work for them.

These short biographies tell the stories of people who have faced unique challenges that have not stopped them from becoming trailblazers, innovators, advocates, and makers. Each person is a leading figure in their field, be it sports, science, math, art, breakdancing, or the world of pop.

Challenge your preconceptions of disability and mental health with the eye-opening stories of these remarkable people:

Ludwig van Beethoven, Gustav Kirchhoff, Henri Matisse, Eliza Suggs, Helen Keller,
Frida Kahlo, John Nash, Stephen Hawking, Temple Grandin, Stevie Wonder, Nabil Shaban, Terry Fox,
Peter Dinklage, Catalina Devandas, Wanda Diaz-Merced, Victor Pineda, Arunima Sinha, Abraham Lincoln,
Demi Lovato, Matt Haig, Redouan Ait Chitt, Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, Farida Bedwei, Jonas Jacobsson,
Trischa Zorn, Ade Adepitan, Stella Young, Lady Gaga, Naoki Higashida, Isabella Springmuhl Tejada, Aaron Philip,
Michelle Akers, Lil Wayne, Dynamo
* 2021 EUREKA! Nonfiction Children’s Honor Book

“An inclusive and upbeat collection ideal for classrooms and libraries.” – School Library Journal

In this stylishly illustrated biography anthology...

Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9780711247451
PRICE $23.99 (USD)

Average rating from 39 members

Featured Reviews

This is the first book that I've read that laid out historical figures with disabilities, with illustrations and thoughtful descriptions! The book is very pretty and easy to read, I like that it included diversity in racial and gender identity as well as including people with mental health disorders. Many of these figures are historical - and I wondered if it would be feel relatable and representative for children that are coming of age in a time with more social media figures that are part of the disability community. However, the people included in this book have make significant contributions to our society that I think it's important children know about (and Lady Gaga will ALWAYS be relevant!). I looked through the glossary and resources in the back and found the resources to be out of the date - the blog hasn't been updated in a while and the book site did not seem user friendly. I feel like this area could be updated or maybe point to more general resources on disabilities. Overall, this would make a great gift for any kid!

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This is an excellent book! This book tells about some of the most extraordinary people in the history who were disabled but their disability didn't stop them from doing the extraordinary things they did and for which they are known by everyone. I think this is a very important book. The illustrations were absolutely stunning!

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Absolutely fantastic!

I loved the message of this book. Each person was celebrated for who he or she is and what they were able to accomplish with his or her life. There was a multitude of famous people depicting centuries of time. I loved the inclusion of mental health into this book as well. I think it is a great message for students that do struggle with mental health disorders. This book was brilliantly done, and it is one that I will for sure be adding to my classroom library.

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This is a very empowering book that highlights the limitations now-famous people have had to deal with throughout their childhood/lives due to their disabilities, but also shines a light on how it didn't stop them from dreaming big and achieving what they wanted! I think it really shows beautifully how society is where the limitations lie, not with disabilities! I love how this has people from all over the world too, and not just the US!
The illustrations are also so beautiful and I think the illustrator really captured each person in their spreads!

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This beautifully illustrated book shares the stories of thirty-four disabled people who have triumphed in various fields. The author's note at the beginning explains that as a disabled child, she struggled with the lack of representation around her, and she writes these bios with sensitivity to the different experiences of each person, never presenting them in monolithic ways or enshrining them as superhuman inspirations.

She strikes the right balance between celebrating those who have overcome difficult odds and dignifying each person as an individual, not as an inspiration for someone able-bodied. However, I think that some of the bios are overly rosy and cheerful. The author often goes into detail about a subject's bodily struggles and social obstacles, but in some cases, she glosses over these too quickly to write about the person's accomplishments. I know that she was dealing with word-count constraints and writing a book for children, but in some cases, it seemed like she wasn't being completely forthcoming about people's trauma and suffering.

Still, that is only a minor complaint for a book that accomplishes its aims so well. It is very educational, and it is amazingly global and diverse, representing lots of different time periods, races, and nations. Even though I was already familiar with some of these historical figures and celebrities, I had never heard of most of them, and I am glad that I had the chance to learn so much from this.

This book addresses disability in a clear and helpful way, and raises awareness through its sections on mental health struggles and invisible disabilities. I am impressed with how educational and moving this book is without ever becoming didactic or saccharine, and recommend it as a great resource for individual readers and schools.

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I Am Not a Label is a fantastic anthology of biographies of people with disabilities. Each one-page biography is accompanied by a bold illustration that makes the text come to life. The biographies focus on artists, scientists, authors, athletes, and more and includes people throughout history up to the present. There are the typical Hellen Keller and Beethoven biographies, but also nods to Lil Wayne, Peter Dinklage, and Lady Gaga, as well as people who were new to me like Catalina Devandas and Wanda Diaz-Merced. The reading level is appropriate for independent readers grades 2 and up. It is a suitable book for a classroom or school library to teach about how a person with a disability should not feel limited in what they can achieve. It would also be great to use in all grades (k-12) when teaching empathy and perspective taking.

Advanced Reader's Copy provided by #NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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This book is a great introduction to disability representation for kids, and I was pleased that they included a wide range of both physical, mental, invisible, and chronic conditions and the profiles were inclusive of POC and LGBTQ people with a diagnosis. The illustrations are beautifully detailed, drawn in a style complementary to the era, culture, and personality of each profile. The descriptions for each person are just detailed enough to tell the broad strokes of each person's life without dumbing down the content too much for child readers. Perfect for parents and educators hoping to broaden their children/students' perspectives about disability and bring the movement into the 21st century.

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This is an excellent book! The biographical snippets for each entry were well written and compelling and the illustrations that accompanied each person were gorgeous. If I had found this book when I was in middle school, this would have been one of those books that would have inspired me to lookup more in depth biographies on many of figures depicted in this book. The book is made of diverse figures both historical and contemporary, and I loved that people with mental health issues were included in this collection.

I am excited to see for the moment I'll get to process this book for my library to sing its praises to patrons and recommend it.

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Fantastic encyclopedia of a diverse group of accomplished people in a variety of fields such as science, math, sports, art, dance and more. I appreciated that the text wasn't littered with people well-known such as Helen Keller, Matisse, Stevie Wonder but also included people that many have not heard of. Even better was the author's sensitivity of not labeling the person with a disability but explaining the complications a person faced and how they were overcome.

My only critique of the work is that some of the fonts make it difficult to read the names of the people. As a book meant for children it would have been better to use very clear fonts to make it accessible to the most readers.

This is a must need text for school and public libraries. Congratulations to the author for bringing to public knowledge the people who have been long ignored.

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The name of the book is pretty self explanatory - I Am Not a Label: 34 artists, thinkers, athletes and activists with disabilities from past and present. It's well written and has colorful and fun illustrations. It reminds me of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women (in a good way). We need more books like this, we need to hear more inspiring stories.

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I Am Not a Label is a new and important addition to the disability canon. It begins with historical figures and takes us to current day. The book covers a wide range of disabilities and genders. This book belongs in every library.

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I really enjoyed this one, I think it is so important for kids to learn about disabilities, struggles, & mental health. I like the different races and orientations that were also offered. This would make an excellent gift for any kid or any person in general, actually!

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This book is outstanding!! I feel like this should be a part of every students education. It should be shared in elementary classrooms. It should be part of psychology courses and special education training. This book took a variety of famous people from long ago, up until now, and shared the struggle each battled. This book shows so beautifully what the title state, "I Am Not a Label." None of the people in the stories allowed their 'disability' or 'difference' from following their dreams and succeeding. Very inspirational. I know it is a book that I will reference again and again.

Thank you for the opportunity to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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#IAmNotaLabel #NetGalley

The title says it all I Am Not a Label. Cerrie Burnell tells/shows us how important it is to see beyond a disability. This book is an anthology of 34 individuals, who at some point in their life became identified as blind, deaf, having polio, having osteomalacia, cancer, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, autism, mental illness, motor neuron disease, achondroplasia, polio, cancer, etc. For all of these artists, athletes, activists, performers, engineers, writers, scientists, scholars, etc. life presented a challenge. They fought through the misconceptions of others and created a fulfilling life for themselves while contributing greatly to the world. You will read of individuals from the United States, Jordan, Nigeria, Prussia, France, Mexico, England, Australia, Costa Rica, India, Ghana, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. Burnell tells us about each of these amazing individuals with a lovely 2 page spread illustrating a part of their life's work and a one page narrative of their life's story. It is an insightful, inspiring read that could be the jumping off point for many wonderful in class discussions or suggestions for further research into art or performing or being a scholar, etc. This book is best read in segments. Each individual deserves their own recognition.

I highly recommend this book for public and school libraries as well as homes.

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I Am Not a Label is an impressive book highlighting some of the most famous people with disabilities. You can recognize almost all of these names. I have known they most had a disability, but didn't know what exactly it was or how it happened. This is a very informative book, with lengthy descriptions of these people's lives. The illustrations were vibrant, and added greatly to the story. It was interesting, and something I would recommend for many older classrooms. Children will recognize many of these names and the stories told were thought-provoking. My son is 7 and this might be a little difficult for him to read himself and some of the terms would be hard for him to understand, but I think older than that would definitely benefit from this book. I would highly recommend this one.

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Wow, what a fantastic book! The illustrations are vibrant and stunning and introduce inspiring people who have accomplished a lot and happen to have a disability. Included are people in a huge variety of professions, from more famous athletes, musicians, great minds, to activists and even a breakdancer. 'I Am Not A Label' does a wonderful job introducing young readers to a huge scope of careers and innumerable ways people can be successful while also introducing many disabilities both visible and invisible.

Thank you NetGalley and Quarto Publishing Group – Wide Eyed Editions for providing this ARC.

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A much-needed and refreshing look at accomplished individuals with disabilities. Very moving and highly recommended. Will definitely purchase for my library.

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This intriguing title says it all.

A very colorful, beautifully illustrated anthology of a peek into the lives of many heroes identified by disabilities, from the past, and the present, to inspire heroes of the future. The struggles these protagonists, had to undergo, and the place they have secured due to their spirit and attitude, overcoming common misconceptions, carving their niche, across the world, unstoppable, is well written as short crisp narratives, detailing their life story and their achievements.

Loved the introduction by the author.

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At first glance, this has the usual disabled historical figures. You know, Beethoven for being deaf, Steven Hawking for having ALS, and Frida Kahlo for having the back issues.

But then we get into Paralympic athletes who have done amazing things, and actors, and scientists.

But I think the statement by Stella Young, a comedian, says it all. She has brittle bone disease so has to use a wheelchair to get around. She gave a TED talk called "I am not your inspiration", which is true. We don't have to look at the disabled to be inspired.

Wonderful people chosen, such as Aaron Phillip, a model who is in a wheel chair, because of cerebral palsy, but is also trans. There is Isabella Springmuhl Tejada who has Down Sysdrome, but manages her own fashion line. And there is Naoki HIgashida, a young author who has autism.

Wonderful book to introduce kids to the world of people with disabilities.

Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.

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This anthology includes brief biographies of many highly accomplished people who have a disability.  In reading this title, kids can read about those who are well known, from Beethoven to Frida Kahlo to Stephen Hawking to Helen Keller and many more.  There are also entries about people whom I never knew before, as for example, the physicist Gustav Kirchhoff and Nabil Shaban, an actor and writer, or lawyer Catalina Devanda or athlete Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah.. 

Of interest is that the author of this collection herself has a disability.  She introduces her book by sharing a bit of her own story.  The author and those she features shine brightly as they are portrayed in her highly readable style.

Each entry is short and beautifully illustrated, making it very easy for young readers to become engaged.  There are also sections including a glossary and a list of resources.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this title in exchange for an honest review.

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I am not a Label is a biographical collection about artists, thinkers, athletes, and activists with disabilities, and just as it is also non-fiction aimed at children, adults will also love the project.

Maybe chic and dazzling are good adjectives for what Lauren Mark Baldo's illustrations are, because in addition to pulling to the more realistic side (it's not photo level, but it is very clear who the illustration is about), the composition for each person it is rich in references of the profession (computers, music, etc.) and everything is very colorful.

The text is in the tone of children's tales/fables - which serves as a reminder that the target audience is children and not just for you to admire the edition - and does not extend as long in the ups and downs of people's lives, being very objective in showing a caught up in their life.

There are some athletes in this collection that reminded me of how incredible the Paralympics are, in which Brazil is a powerhouse (but unfortunately there is no Brazilian in the collection). But one thing that left me 100% WOW, are Stevie Wonder's achievements in his career, because I know the guy is very famous and talented, but he leaves everyone empty-handed in awards!

I finish reading by planning to throw a bunch of Molotov cocktails in Hollywood for generally just making a biopic of a white man, and having so many incredible stories out there that also deserve attention, such as Wanda Diaz-Merced, an astronomer who after losing the vision created a formula to be able to hear the stars and to be able to continue her work.

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<em>I Am Not a Label </em>by Cerrie Burnell and illustrated by Lauren Mark Baldo is perhaps one of the best books I have ever read detailing successful people with disabilities or mental health issues. A collection of short biographies of a vast number of people throughout history who have done well in their lives but have also experienced great struggles.

These books are always incredibly important reads. Even more, they are inspiring in a big way. It can be easy to see people in the light of fame and not recognize the adversity they have faced. And in the case of this book, it is truly amazing to see how these people are portrayed. The fact of the matter is that success is diverse and should be celebrated as such.

Where, often, disabilities are thought of as things that hold us back, <em>I Am Not a Label</em> flips this narrative on its head to affirm the truth that we can do extraordinary things no matter what disability or mental health problem we may be dealing with. And thus this book takes us through 30 people, their successes, and the disabilities that they have experienced in their lives.

One thing that really got me while I was reading this book is that it blended both successful people from the past and successful people from the present. I remember being <em>amazed </em>and thrilled when I saw that Demi Lovato was included in the book. Usually, books like this always seem to portray people like Stephen Hawking who, while truly inspiring, are much older and therefore not very relatable. Meanwhile, Demi Lovato is someone I can genuinely feel connected with.

This book is marketed toward young readers, which I think is excellent. Though I would not say that teenagers are the only ones who would benefit from reading this, I will say that they are the ones who deserve to benefit the most. I would highly recommend reading this book and recommending it to others.

<em>I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.</em>

This review will go live on the Reader Fox blog on June 17, 2020.

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“I Am Not a Label” has countless qualities that make it a remarkable book, not just for children but also for adults. This anthology devotes its pages to both historical and current figures - everyone from Frida Kahlo and Beethoven to Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, Farida Bedwei, and Isabella Springmuhl Tejada. There are so many layers of representation within these pages that it’s hard to list them all: we see different kinds of disabilities, including physical, mental-health, and invisible struggles like fibromyalgia; figures from varied cultures, identities, genders (trans heroes!). I respect the commitment to intersectionality that the author clearly has, and this kind of representation in books - children’s books or anything else - is rare and imperative. Cerrie Burnell did a remarkable job of collecting these stories from around the world.

One thing I also appreciated was how “I Am Not a Label” discusses disabilities. Burnell doesn’t focus on the challenges of disabilities and highlights all of the aspirations, ambition, compassion, and dreams the featured people have, but at the same time she makes it a point to discuss the cultural stereotypes that make it difficult to navigate being a disabled youth. Some cultures viewed disability as a curse, some made people think and feel like they wouldn’t amount to anything simply because of a difference in their bodies or minds. I think that is where this book is such a powerful one: children can only learn to act against systemic oppression, whether it’s ableism or racism or sexism or other forms of disenfranchisement, if they understand that disabled folx are as capable and deserving of respect and opportunity and love as anyone else and ALSO they many times they are living in cultures and societies they devalue them. And we can work against that and change our cultures to be truly inclusive if we hear stories like these, gain better understanding of some of the cultural frameworks in which disabled folx grow up, and empower children to work to create more inclusive, accessible communities for everyone.

The intersectionality and subtle acknowledgements of systemic disenfranchisement and prejudice are refreshing and revolutionary and I can’t wait to buy this book for my children and our family. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for this advance copy! My review is unbiased.

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Reviewed for Netgalley

I Am Not a Label tells the true-life tales of 34 people with disabilities. The stories are about everyday heroes and normal people. Mostly, they are tales about people that have not allowed disability to limit their lives. Cerrie Burnell's book would be a wonderful addition to any collection but especially those trying to reach all readers.

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This book is MARVELOUS, FANTASTIC, SUPERB and the other synonyms for great that I am sure I could remember if I wanted to. I wanted to fill my shelves with more diverse books with unique voices, and seeing more books about people with disabilities is fantastic. I naturally needed to pick up this book, because I have family and friends with disabilities and they deserve to be heard too. And, man, am I so glad I picked up this book! It's incredible! Cerrie Burnell did an excellent job crafting this book.

This is a non-fiction, anthology-esque collection of people who had disabilities and did great things. Sometimes they did art or sports, or sometimes they just did truly miraculous feats. There will be some you know about, like Beethoven and Terry Fox (Yay Canada, represent!), and some you might not, like Henri Matisse (I was not aware of his disabilities but did know about his art). Their stories are told in a whimsical and fun way too, which is why this book really stood out to me. It felt way more fun than your typical non-fiction book.

If you're looking to learn, grab this book! It's a great collection of facts and stories that also have absolutely beautiful illustrations to go along with them.

Five out of five stars!

Thank you to NetGalley and Quarto Publishing for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange of an honest review.

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A fantastic book full of inspirational people that achieved amazing things despite having something that may make their goals more difficult. I love that the book included mental health, and also featured people from all over the world. The illustrations were beautiful, and should be placed in every school library.

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I love reading collected biographies, and as a disabled person, I am excited to have had the chance to read a book of collected biographies about disabled people from the past and present.

There's a lot to love about this book. The illustrations are all stunning and help to bring the stories of the featured figures to life. I was really impressed by the broad variety of people featured, especially since it could have been easy to feature people from a limited number of countries, time periods, or even disabilities. We got to see a broad variety of disabilities, with disabled people from a broad variety of places, both past and present. I also felt like we got a really good mixture of people who are well known as having been disabled, well known even though their disabilities may not be as well known, and a bit more obscure overall. The author is disabled herself and clearly understands the importance of identity-first language, representation, and how important it is for disabled people to be allowed to achieve our dreams (even if those are just regular dreams and don't require us to be exceptional!). While not all of my own disabilities were represented, many of them were, and I felt seen by this book. This is targeted towards a middle-grade audience, and I know that a lot of disabled kids are going to feel just as seen as I did. I also think it's a great chance for abled kids to see what disability looks like in the real world and offer understanding that might not have been there before.

I did have a couple of small issues with the book. I think my biggest issue was the font that the names were presented in on each bio page. I actually had a really hard time reading them, and I suspect that's not going to be accessible for anyone whose disability impacts their vision or their ability to interpret what they're seeing. One of my other issues actually ties into that a bit: the storytelling style (which is lighter and briefer than I'd hoped, but expected given the intended audience) isn't all that consistent, and I felt like some of the information provided was different in many of the entries. The reason this played into the first issue is that there were some entries where the body of the text would include a full name, but others where the full name was not included in the body, which became a problem for me when I couldn't figure out the name from the header. I actually had to google one or two of my best guesses for figures I wasn't familiar with so I'd actually know who it was talking about and have that information attached to the correct person.

Overall, I thought this was a really important read. I Am Not a Label is one I would definitely recommend to others, even if the font isn't as accessible as it could be. I got this as an ARC from NetGalley, but it's one I hope to add to my personal library, and I know I'll be requesting that my public library add a copy.

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I wanted to read this so badly but my phone broke. And when I could download the book againg. The book was archived.

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I love this book so much. Of course, I loved the inclusivity of the book. These were people who we don't hear or see enough of (I.e., my personal favorite STEVIE WONDER). But they also included people from multiple decades and time periods. One of my biggest gripes with anthologies like these is that they're too often grouped in "long ago" groups or "now and current" but this was all over. You have Nick Jonas, Beethoven, Peter Dinklage, Frida Kahlo, among many more.

I would loved to use this in my classroom as an opportunity to talk about character traits and it's engaging for students who both love and hate non-fiction. (It helps that the illustrations are great too).

Hoping to get a copy for my classroom and I think everyone else should too!

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I Am Not a Label: 34 disabled artists, thinkers, athletes and activists from past and present is an anthology of some very inspirational people. This wonderful, fully illustrated book contains information about people I knew nothing about. Catalina Devandas, who has Spina Bifida, is a lawyer and plays an important role in the United Nations. Isabella Tejada is the first woman with Down Syndrome to have her own fashion label and to showcase it at London Fashion Week. Mary Temple Grandin become a Professor of Animal Science even though she is Autistic. This book contains fantastic stories about people who have overcome hardships and is suitable for older children (and adults too!) Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy.

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This books is a perfect representation as to why people are more than a label and why we shouldn't use labels in the first place. The write-ups were well done and the illustrations fit super well.
Thank you to netgalley and the publishers for providing me with an ARC for an honest review!

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What a great book to educate all ages about some truly amazing people who have disabilities. It includes people from all around the world and even features some who are part of the LGBTQ community. I had not heard about several of the people prior to reading this. Others I knew of, but was not aware that they had a disability. In each case, I learned quite a bit about each person featured. I love that the book includes both visible and invisible disabilities.

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