Field Day for Eugene: Kindness, Acceptance, Inclusion
Maria Lei Antonio (author) Bonnie Lemaire (illustrator)
Halo Publishing International (2021)
Reviewed by Jill Rey for Reader Views (1/2022)
Eugene is a student at Ross Elementary. He’s been waiting all summer for this school year to start because it is the first year his class will get to participate in Field Day. Field Day is an exciting day each year that classes get to compete with each other in all different games and activities. Eugene is in a wheelchair, but that didn’t prevent him from practicing the water balloon toss all summer with his sister, Lucy. However, when Ms. Grey announces the activities for Field Day, the class suddenly starts asking how Eugene will be able to participate, since he is in a wheelchair. Eugene forgets about his wheelchair and never thought about it getting in the way of the Field Day activities, and Ms. Grey assures the class Eugene will be participating and it is a good thing he does because his water balloon toss is the reason Ms. Grey’s class wins!
“Field Day for Eugene: Kindness, Acceptance, Inclusion” is a heartwarming story about a boy that sees himself just like everyone else, capable of everything the rest of the kids are, and excited for all the same things. But, while he forgets to see his wheelchair as something that holds him back, it is something the other kids do not live with every day, so they recognize the difference and limitations it may cause. However, Ms. Grey is the perfect teacher, reassuring Eugene’s confidence and even getting the kids excited to have Eugene on their team for Field Day. “Field Day for Eugene” shows readers that even though Eugene may be sitting in a wheelchair, he is still just another kid, excited to have fun and games on Field Day as he competes alongside his friends.
Illustrated primarily amongst green and brown backdrops, pictures are set apart from the words as readers are able to fully engage with the photos and scenery illustrator Bonnie Lemaire has created while reading about Eugene’s preparation and excitement for Field Day. Author Maria Lei Antonio has written a story all-encompassing of the inclusion of differently able people within an elementary classroom as they all compete in fun games and activities.
This encouraging story is a great read for elementary age kids as they are reminded we don’t all look alike.