All the Way to the Top: How One Girl’s Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything is a power powerful story in a picture book format. We follow a young girl and see what she was able to do; what she showed the world what she and others like her, could do. You see, Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins has MS and needs the use of a wheelchair. But she finds many places closed to her. Even school. Partly this is due to physically unable to enter buildings, but also the attitudes of people as well. In fact, when Jennifer was young, her parents were told to “send her away” to a place that had “others like her” living there. This was not in “the dark ages.” But in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
Annette Bay Pimentel and Keelan-Chaffins (writing the forward) created a picture book that shows modern history. Shows how people would literally crawl if they had to, to make their point. They are not “disabled people” unable to do anything, learn anything or be a member of society. They were people that were just like everyone else. They even took their fight to Washington, DC. And because of that, changed history and the law itself. This is a personal book due to how you have or have not been affected by the disability laws of this country. Also, a great history lesson for those of us not “in the know” or who did not realize how recent the fight has been and still going.
Nabigal-Nayagam Haider Ali’s illustrations are perfectly paired with the text. The colors are bold, but not overwhelming. Details fit the action and tell the story. They are sweet and educational.
I would have liked to learn more about Jennifer herself, and not just what she did to help the law change. However, what is there is inspirational. I mean, In 1990 I was in high school worried I would lock my key to my locker in my locker (again), not fighting for equal rights for people. And Jennifer was not even double digits yet!