All the Way to the Top: How One Girl’s Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything

Sourcebooks Explore. Mar. 2020. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781492688976.
Gr 1-4–Pimentel’s latest nonfiction book is a biography of disability rights activist Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins and a history of the landmark 1989 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Born in 1981, Keelan-Chaffins, who has cerebral palsy, felt the world was always telling her to “STOP!” when she was “raring to GO!” At the time, sidewalks didn’t have curb cutouts and her schools only had stairs. After attending an activist meeting, where adults “with all sorts of disabilities” invited her to participate, Keelan-Chaffins was inspired to make her voice heard. She and her sister were often the only youth activists at these gatherings. Congress was reluctant to pass the ADA, so Keelan-Chaffins and her family joined others to protest in Washington, DC. Adult disability advocates who used wheelchairs crawled up the stairs of the U.S. Capitol in an act of defiance. Keelan-Chaffins was determined to ensure that children with disabilities didn’t get ignored. Her youth and tenacity caught the media’s attention, in turn, pressuring Congress to pass the ADA. Pimental’s present tense writing and portrayal of the power of a young person fighting to create change will engage young audiences. A few illustrations do not visually match the content of the text. A foreword and back matter enhance understanding. The time line that is provided might cause readers to seek extra information to fully understand specific milestones.
VERDICT Even with a few quibbles, Pimentel offers a great look at a young activist creating change and a better understanding of the importance of the ADA.

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