Just Because by Rebecca Elliott
Lion Hudson plc – Lion Children's Books 2010 ISBN 9 780745 962351
Reviewed by Louise Morse
One of the joys of being a parent is being able to read children’s books again. Some adults, like me, never lose their love of a good, illustrated children’s book. Even those they bring home from school with themes so different from our own times: we had Janet and John, and now there’s Salim and Javed.
Occasionally there’s a new book that brings an old theme into the modern idiom in such an engaging, winsome way that you wonder it hasn’t been done before.
Clemmie and her younger brother have adventures. You know they include flying to the moon, because of the picture on the front cover. But if you look closer you’ll see that Clemmie is in a wheelchair, in fact, she’s in a wheelchair in many of the illustrations. Because Clemmie "can’t walk, talk, move around much ... cook macaroni, pilot a plane, juggle, or do algebra" explains her brother. "I don’t know why she doesn’t do these things," he adds, "Just because."
We don’t know the boy’s name, because he’s the one writing the story and he doesn’t tell us. But he tells us that Clemmie is a lot like a princess. "They don’t have to do much, either." Some sisters can be mean, he writes, "They scream and shout, pull your hair ..."
But Clemmie’s not like that. She makes him feel better when it’s dark, or when there’s thunder and lightning outside. He gets scared, but Clemmie just smiles. For this little boy, Clemmie is lovely, just the way she is.
Just Because is a truly lovely book. An adult can read it in minutes, but it has the curious effect of grounding you in what really matters. For grown-ups, this is the antidote to the tabloid headlines. For children it’s a story of a boy and his sister, and love.
Buy it to let your children read it, but secretly, to treasure it for yourself.
Louise Morse is Media and Communications Manager for Pilgrim Homes