All the way to the top How one girl's fight for Americans with disabilities changed everything

Annette Bay Pimentel

Book - 2020

"Diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth, Jennifer Keelan grew up battling--and overcoming--the limitations others set for her. From a lack of cutaway curbs and bus lifts to being denied enrollment at her neighborhood school, Jennifer was continually blocked from living the life she wanted. But after discovering the world of disability rights activism, she knew she had to use her voice to change things. When Jennifer was just eight years old, she participated in the Capitol Crawl. The deeply... affecting image of Jennifer crawling up the steps of Capitol Hill went viral and helped pressure Congress into passing the Americans with Disabilities Act. A powerfully illustrated biography of Jennifer's life and a celebration of youth activism, All the Way to the Top will teach all children that they have the power to make a difference"--

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Children's Room j323.37092/Keelan Due Jun 12, 2022
Review by Booklist Reviews

Jennifer Keelan, born with cerebral palsy, was unable to attend her local school because steps created a barrier for her wheelchair. Her family joined the disability rights movement in 1987 in Phoenix, where she first told her story publicly. Over the next few years, the Keelans traveled to other cities for demonstrations. In 1990, when the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was languishing in Congress, activists gathered before the U.S. Capitol to demonstrate. Determined to represent kids with disabilities in the protest remembered as the Capitol Crawl, nine-year-old Jennifer joined others who, unable to walk unassisted, slowly hauled, heaved, and dragged themselves up the building's 100 steps. The ADA soon passed. The book's informative back matter includes concise explanations of topics mentioned in the text. Pimentel's compelling, present-tense narrative gives the story great immediacy, helping children connect with Jennifer's reactions to physical barriers and social injustice. Making good use of color, light, and contrast, Ali contributes a series of expressive digital illustrations. Still an activist, Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins offers a thought-provoking foreword to this inspiring picture book. Grades 1-3. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Booklist Reviews

Jennifer Keelan, born with cerebral palsy, was unable to attend her local school because steps created a barrier for her wheelchair. Her family joined the disability rights movement in 1987 in Phoenix, where she first told her story publicly. Over the next few years, the Keelans traveled to other cities for demonstrations. In 1990, when the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was languishing in Congress, activists gathered before the U.S. Capitol to demonstrate. Determined to represent kids with disabilities in the protest remembered as the Capitol Crawl, nine-year-old Jennifer joined others who, unable to walk unassisted, slowly hauled, heaved, and dragged themselves up the building's 100 steps. The ADA soon passed. The book's informative back matter includes concise explanations of topics mentioned in the text. Pimentel's compelling, present-tense narrative gives the story great immediacy, helping children connect with Jennifer's reactions to physical barriers and social injustice. Making good use of color, light, and contrast, Ali contributes a series of expressive digital illustrations. Still an activist, Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins offers a thought-provoking foreword to this inspiring picture book. Grades 1-3. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

"How do you change someone's mind?" As a child who uses a wheelchair, Jennifer faces obstacles, from curbs that are like "a cliff" to exclusionary classmates. But "Jennifer knows they're wrong. She's just a friend waiting to happen!" In clear, accessible prose accompanied by Ali's creamily textured digital illustrations, Pimentel relates the story of Jennifer Keelan-Chaffin's activism in the disability rights movement, culminating in the Capitol Crawl on Mar. 12, 1990. Alongside adult activists with disabilities, Jennifer hauled herself up the steps of the U.S. Capitol to advocate for passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, after which Congress at long last passed the bill. Supplemental material contextualizes the disability rights movement, offering a jumping-off point for conversations: "Anyone can choose to be an activist, no matter your age." Ages 4–8. (Mar.) Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 1–4—Pimentel's latest nonfiction book is a biography of disability rights activist Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins and a history of the landmark 1989 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Born in 1981, Keelan-Chaffins, who has cerebral palsy, felt the world was always telling her to "STOP!" when she was "raring to GO!" At the time, sidewalks didn't have curb cutouts and her schools only had stairs. After attending an activist meeting, where adults "with all sorts of disabilities" invited her to participate, Keelan-Chaffins was inspired to make her voice heard. She and her sister were often the only youth activists at these gatherings. Congress was reluctant to pass the ADA, so Keelan-Chaffins and her family joined others to protest in Washington, DC. Adult disability advocates who used wheelchairs crawled up the stairs of the U.S. Capitol in an act of defiance. Keelan-Chaffins was determined to ensure that children with disabilities didn't get ignored. Her youth and tenacity caught the media's attention, in turn, pressuring Congress to pass the ADA. Pimental's present tense writing and portrayal of the power of a young person fighting to create change will engage young audiences. A few illustrations do not visually match the content of the text. A foreword and back matter enhance understanding. The time line that is provided might cause readers to seek extra information to fully understand specific milestones. VERDICT Even with a few quibbles, Pimentel offers a great look at a young activist creating change and a better understanding of the importance of the ADA.—Danielle Jones, Multnomah County Library, OR Copyright 2020 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A picture book tribute to the achievements of activist Jennifer Keelan describes her diagnosis with cerebral palsy at birth, the limitations she overcame to pursue life on her own terms and her 8-year-old participation in the Capital Crawl on behalf of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Illustrations.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"Diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth, Jennifer Keelan grew up battling-and overcoming-the limitations others set for her. From a lack of cutaway curbs and bus lifts to being denied enrollment at her neighborhood school, Jennifer was continually blocked from living the life she wanted. But after discovering the world of disability rights activism, she knew she had to use her voice to change things. When Jennifer was just eight years old, she participated in the Capitol Crawl. The deeply affecting imageof Jennifer crawling up the steps of Capitol Hill went viral and helped pressure Congress into passing the Americans with Disabilities Act. A powerfully illustrated biography of Jennifer's life and a celebration of youth activism, All the Way to the Top will teach all children that they have the power to make a difference"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

2021 Schneider Family Book Award Young Children's Honor Book (American Library Association)Experience the true story of lifelong activist Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins and her participation in the Capitol Crawl in this inspiring autobiographical picture book. This beautifully illustrated story includes a foreword from Jennifer and backmatter detailing her life and the history of the disability rights movement.This is the story of a little girl who just wanted to go, even when others tried to stop her.Jennifer Keelan was determined to make a change—even if she was just a kid. She never thought her wheelchair could slow her down, but the way the world around her was built made it hard to do even simple things. Like going to school, or eating lunch in the cafeteria.Jennifer knew that everyone deserves a voice! Then the Americans with Disabilities Act, a law that would make public spaces much more accessible to people with disabilities, was proposed to Congress. And to make sure it passed, Jennifer went to the steps of the Capitol building in Washington DC to convince them.And, without her wheelchair, she climbed.ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP!A Rise: A Feminist Book Project NomineeA Junior Library Guild SelectionAll the Way to the Top is perfect for:Elementary school teachers looking for books to supplement disability rights curriculum and the history of the ADA (find a free Common-Core Aligned Educator Guide at www.sourcebooks.com)Parents looking for social justice picture books, books on activism and for young activists, and inspiring books for girlsParents, teachers, librarians, and guardians looking for beautifully illustrated, inspirational and educational books for young readers in their life