I Am Not a Label
I Am Not a Label
Cerrie Burnell, illus. Lauren Mark Baldo. London: Wide Eyed Editions, pb, 978 0 71124 744 4, 2020, £8.99, 64 pp.
Non-fiction, illustrated, 6+ years
In the book ‘I am not a Label’, Carrie Burrell tells the stories of 34 disabled artists, thinkers, and activists; 34 great examples of perseverance, persistence and courage against all odds.
We are reading the stories of extraordinary people who faced challenging circumstances and were determined to defy them and prove themselves to the world. With passion, Cerrie Burnell writes about such personalities as Frida Khalo, Henri Matisse, Eliza Suggs, Steve Wonder, John Nash, Victor Pineda and Aaron Philip. Each story carries its own message of strength and resilience.
Having experienced challenging conditions myself, I drew great strength from these short biographies. Particularly, I was inspired by the story of Victor Pineda whose life changed in childhood when he contracted polio. The virus spread so broadly in his body that he was unable to sleep without a defibrillator. His parents’ commitment to his development and education taught him perseverance and helped him establish the Pineda Foundation which fights for the rights of disabled children around the world. Pineda understood that by being denied education, the world deprived him and many young disabled children of their human right to grow and develop. He also launched a website called ‘World Enabled’ which supports young disabled people and wrote the book ‘Silver Scorpio’ that narrates the story of disabled children from Syria.
‘I Am Not a Label’ is highly enlightening, as it crashes stereotypes around disabilities and celebrates resilience. It is relatable, not only to children and adults with disabilities but also to anyone who has experienced a major setback in life and needs hope and faith in the human spirit and determination. Highly recommended.
Review by Benjamin West