4/29/2020 – Barefoot Librarian Featured Book Review
David’s ADHD by Sherrill Cannon won the The Barefoot Librarian Book Award in the 2019-2020 Reader Views Literary Awards. David’s ADHD was selected from the finalists in the early reader category, picture books geared toward 6-8 year old readers.
Author: Sherrill S. Cannon
Publisher: Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Co. 2020
In this time of increased demand for diverse books for children, David’s ADHD is a welcome addition. Diverse books often focus on different cultures and minorities, and there is still a serious dearth of these. However, it is important not to omit books with main characters that are diverse for other reasons. Children need mirrors to see themselves in books, and they also need windows to see into the lives of others. This creates understanding, compassion, and empathy. David’s ADHD is such a book.
David is a child who has certain behaviors that his parents, teachers, and classmates do not understand. Some of these actions are described by the author in the book.
“When David was young, he could not pay attention,
No matter what his mother would mention.
His mind would not focus and this made him mad.
He got so frustrated with problems he had.
His parents just didn’t know what they could do.
He tried to tie laces, and then throw his shoe.
He’d try to draw pictures, and then rip the page.
He seemed to be filled with a terrible rage.
He couldn’t sit still, and he wouldn’t obey.
‘He’s just hyperactive,’ his grandma would say.”
“Everyone thought he was out of control;
His angry resentment was taking its toll.
The kids wouldn’t play with him; he was too rough.
He’d push and he’d shove, and he’d grab at their stuff.
Nobody liked him or wanted him near.
And he seemed to be getting worse, year after year.”
David’s parents loved him and wanted to help him. So, they took him to a doctor that diagnosed him with ADHD – Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. This is what David’s parents learned.
“That some children lacked a certain dimension;
ADHD meant they could not pay attention.”
“A small lazy link somewhere in the head.
Sleepy connection that wasn’t so good;
It didn’t use sugar the way that it should.”
The doctors told David’s parents that some children with ADHD could be taught ways to cope with their condition, while others need medication in addition to coping mechanisms. David’s teachers and therapist worked to together to give David tools to deal with his problems and frustrations. Some of these coping mechanisms included setting up rules for different situations as well as creating a schedule that must be followed. Also, David found a computer helped him to get his thoughts out much more quickly than the challenge of writing by hand.
The author, Sherrill S. Cannon, has done an excellent job with her subject matter and main character. She not only describes the behaviors associated with ADHD but also explains what is happening in the brain that leads to these behaviors. This is a medical condition that is difficult to explain in a way that children can comprehend and relate to. The author’s explanations are easy to understand because she uses everyday comparisons, such as a camera that cannot focus.
“He couldn’t see things the others could see.”
“We all have a camera that lives in our head.
It gives us bright pictures of that is said.
The lens helps us focus, to make things seem clear.
Dave’s couldn’t connect with his eye or his ear.
The focusing lens was asleep in his brain.
He needed some help to wake it again…”
The book presents several points of view – the child with ADHD, the child’s parents, and the child’s friends and schoolmates. This makes the book a valuable resource for parents, educators, medical professionals, and therapists. Children with ADHD can see themselves in this book and see how others perceive them. Children who have peers or family members with ADHD will learn what the ADHD child is experiencing, why they exhibit certain behaviors, and how to respond.
The illustrations fit the tone of the book perfectly. They are cheerful, colorful, and fun. The characters are cartoon-like giving the subject matter a lightness and brightness that matches the tone of this rhyming book. The illustrations and rhyming text make this subject more accessible to children.
The book projects a positive yet realistic point of view. The author explains that David’s ADHD may never go away and that David may have to always use the tools he has learned. But the book also emphasizes that David has learned to accept and control his ADHD. I found this book to be informative and accessible and I highly recommend it to teachers, parents, medical professionals, and therapists that have children with ADHD in their lives. The author aptly summed up the value of her book in the following quote.
“My greatest hope for this book is that it is shared in libraries, so that it’s available to all… The primary goal was to not only help children with ADHD, but also to help classmates, friends and family understand and to encourage classroom inclusion. I’m not sure how many parents might be reluctant to order a book about ADHD, tacitly admitting their child might be affected, but will be able to read it and decide about checking a copy out of a library. Perhaps an asymptomatic child will be able to find himself/herself – or a schoolmate – in the book. I sincerely hope it makes it into school libraries everywhere!” …Sherrill S. Cannon