It is always a pleasure to find picture books that celebrate diversity–especially when they are hilarious! Books that tell stories about a variety of people help make everyone feel included and special. They also encourage children to think about others who may have a particular condition that makes their lives different from what many consider to be “normal.” Normal can mean different things to different people. It is important to impart stories that can be pertinent in meaning to all children and all parents.
In Zoom! by Robert Munsch, young Lauretta wants a new wheelchair. When her mom takes her to a wheelchair store, Lauretta thinks all the chairs she tries are too slow. She zooms around the store, but none will do. She tries a five-speed and a ten-speed, but still, every one of them is too slow. Finally, they look at a fifteen-speed wheelchair and that’s even too slow. Only the ninety two-speed wheelchair Lauretta spies will do! The clerk tells her to take it home for a day to try it out.
Lauretta is delighted to try out the chair in her own driveway. She puts it into twentieth gear and crashes into her brother. Her brother tells her to go on the road if she intends
to drive so fast. She pops it into ninety-second gear and zooms down the main road. Suddenly, she finds herself on the side of the road with a speeding ticket for driving too fast.
Lauretta is scared to tell her mom about the speeding ticket. But when her brother gets stabbed with a fork and is in need of a rapid ride to the hospital, Lauretta comes to the rescue. When a policeman tries to stop Lauretta en route to the hospital, he notices she’s on her way to the hospital and escorts her there. The only problem now? Lauretta thinks her wheelchair is still too slow!
Zoom! is not a story that contrives to include a handicapped child. It is a silly, entertaining, hilarious book that happens to include a child in a wheelchair. Many children will be interested in finding out more about Lauretta.