Title: Follow My Leader
Author: James B. Garfield
Major Themes: Blindness, Guide Dogs, Braille
Synopsis: Jimmy Carter’s world falls apart when a firecracker explodes in his face and causes permanent blindness. Is there any hope of leading a “normal” life again?
There are very few books I’ve read about blind children, but ever since I was young Follow My Leader has been a favorite. For years, firecrackers have held a fascination for me, but when I heard Jimmy Carter’s sad story, my fascination received a bit of a sobering check. This story also is great in the fact that you feel like you’re living the life of a blind person—and you quickly realize how blessed you are to have good vision.
Jimmy is an active boy, loving to play baseball with his friends and generally living a normal life. But when a firecracker accidentally explodes in his face, his vision is lost forever.
Following Jimmy’s struggles to learn how to live without sight is fascinating. He has to learn a whole new way to do almost everything—and it isn’t easy to learn new ways to walk, read, or to pay attention to everything that’s happening around you when you’ve been doing things differently your whole life.
Follow My Leader is a superb story, one that can be enjoyed simply for the story itself, or could be used to teach young children about blindness and the ways people deal with it. One thing that Mom thought was particularly well done was the theme of forgiveness—through the story, Jimmy had to learn to forgive the boy who threw the firecracker at him. I enjoyed this story a lot when I was seven, and I’m sure your youngster will love it as well.
WARNING: There may be a few words in this book that some would not approve of.
Listening Level—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 7 – 9, 8 – 12