Great People Who Reached for the Stars


Although Winnie Harlow was bullied because of her skin condition, vitiligo, she determined that the ‘best way to fight back was to be confident as herself’. Thereafter, she emerged as one of the 21st century’s leading supermodels.

While Evelyn Glennie’s hearing loss suggests she can no longer proceed with a musical career, her training and then the fact she uses vibrations in her performance, enable a stellar career. Abraham Nemeth was told he could not expect a career as a mathematician because of his blindness. Yet, after believing this guidance, he changed ‘tack- determined to find a way for blind and partially signed people to become mathematicians‘. This led to his creation of the  Nemeth Braille Code for Mathematics and Science Notation.

Like each of the inspirational figures featured in Great People Who Reached for the Stars, Abraham Nemeth sought to be known for more than his disability. We know Stephen Hawking for his discoveries in physics. Thereafter, we know Ellie Simmonds for her record-breaking swimming career. Frida Kahlo is renowned for her art, rather than her injuries and polio.

Alongside the biographies, are considerations about disability, from society’s response, to our own. Meanwhile, within each biography Louise Page includes a vocabulary guide, a question for consideration and then an explanation of each subject’s disability. These range from physical to mental conditions.

Bookwagon is inspired, awed and activated by Great People Who Reached for the Stars. We assert that this title should be within every school library and classroom.

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Great People Who Reached for the Stars

Louise Page, illustrated by Kat Williams


Great People Who Reached for the Stars includes biographies of astounding people who achieved against the odds. Their stories are different because these ‘stars’ fought and fight odds of disability and prejudice. While we know about Stephen Hawking, for example, from I Am Not A Label, or Frida Kahlo from We Are Artists, what of Adam Pearson?
This actor was born with neurofibramotis. ‘He has been the target of stares his whole life’. Despite the fact his disability is visible, Adam Pearson persists in building his craft and following his dream.
There is Jean Christopher Parisot’s example. Although he is a tetraplegic, relying on aides to hold his phone to his ear, he works more than sixty hours a week in the French civil service. What’s more Jean Christophe founded the Collective of Disabled Democrats in 2000.
Alongside offering a series of biographies of inspirational disabled people, Louise Page includes memorable quotes from and about them. She includes an invitation to explore more about these people’s careers further. There is also a vocabulary list unique to each subject, alongside an explanation of their specific condition.
Finally, Great People Who Reached for the Stars includes considerations about disability within society, including actions and questions. Should disabled actors only be cast as disabled characters? What is the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities? Should society change to incorporate disability, rather than the other way around? Everyday examples to consider include public transport.
Bookwagon is awed and moved by this book. It is diligently researched, active, relevant and thoroughly informative. This book deserves a role in every school.



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