The Prince Who Was Just Himself is written by Silke Schnee. She's the mom of three boys, and her youngest son, Noah, was born with Down Syndrome. The illustrator, Heike Sistig studied special education and is an art therapist. These two ladies bring their experience and education together to make a beautiful book that can open up conversations with our children about children who may be different from everyone else.
In the story, the King and Queen have two sons-Luke and Jonas. The two boys are all boy, playing soccer, reading, and doing all the things that "normal" boys do. The King and Queen love their children and decide to have another. And then Prince Noah is born. He doesn't look like everyone else, and he doesn't act like anyone else. He's slower, and he doesn't speak often. Despite his differences, his family loves him and celebrates his difference. He is the Prince Who Was Just Himself.
One day the kingdom is threatened by an evil knight- Scarface. The three princes ride out to meet him. When the other princes stop and face him down, Noah surprises everyone by riding up to the evil dangerous Knight. With care and compassion, he asks the Knight about his terrible scar for which he is named. Then he hugs the Knight who is trembling and crying in response. Noah's kindness saves the kingdom because it changes Scarface. And everyone realizes that the Prince Who Was Just Himself has his own gifts.
The story is beautiful. The illustrations are well done and, along with the description of Noah, communicate to the reader that the new prince has Down Syndrome. The author's telling of the things that Noah can't do or is slow doing will provide good opportunities to talk with children about children with any disability, not just Down Syndrome. And the conclusion with Noah's treatment of the evil Knight will open up discussions about how each person is gifted in different ways.
At the end of the book, the author gives information about Down Syndrome and refers the reader to places where they can learn more.
I love this story. As a former special education teacher and as the friend of several parents of children with disabilities, I think the story will give children a good glimpse of what it means to be different and how difference aren't bad. When children know about disabilities, it can help them to be more understanding and kind to children with disabilities that they may meet.
You can find The Prince Who Was Just Himself on Amazon here, and it's a story I definitely recommend you read with your kids.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are entirely my own, and I was not compensated in any other way.
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