As a sports star, Jimmy is confident in himself and his abilities. That all changes one day, when his friend messes around with a firecracker, accidentally setting it off. The resulting explosion blinds Jimmy, and now he has to relearn everything he used to do without thinking – getting dressed, finding his way around his house and neighborhood, even eating. Then Leader, a seeing-eye dog, enters his life.
In Follow My Leader by James B. Garfield, readers follow along, experiencing the horror of the accident early in the book, and realizing the difficulties Jimmy faces in just walking around the block. We see how the relationship between Leader and Jimmy evolves from caution to complete confidence. And we watch as Jimmy deals with very grown-up emotions of bitterness towards his friend who caused the accident. Will Jimmy be able to regain his former life and be able to forgive his friend?
My children and I loved this book. It gives great insight for children who have no experience dealing with someone who has a disability. I have to admit, I cried several times in this book – because of the accident, because of the difficulties Jimmy faces – both physically and emotionally. But he, and readers, grow and learn from those difficulties – and Jimmy triumphs in the end.
Recommended for ages 6 and up as a read-aloud; ages 8 and up as a reader.
I first read this book a very long time ago – I was nine years old according to my name and date I inscribed on the flyleaf. I was so deeply impacted by the story, that on more than one occasion I tried practicing how to navigate through familiar places “blind” using the skills Jimmy learned. I tried to teach myself braille also, but my fingertips never did learn to discern the various bumps and positions of the dots on the hassle alphabet.
Many years later, I shared this book with my oldest child, and plan to read it this summer to my youngest two.
Not sure if it’s still in print, but very worth taking down a copy of its not.