Review of What Happened to You? by James Catchpole, illustrated by Karen George

What Happened to You?

by James Catchpole
illustrated by Karen George

Little, Brown and Company, 2023. 36 pages.
Review written January 30, 2024, from a library book
Starred Review
2024 Schneider Family Award Honor Book, Young Children

This sweet and simple picture book shows a kid named Joe with one leg happily playing pirates on a playground.

When a bunch of kids he doesn’t know come over, they ask Joe what happened to him. He’s tired of answering that question, so he asks, “What do you think?”

The kids offer several responses, always wrong, and some far-fetched. I like the page where a kid asks, “But where’s your leg?” and Joe says, “Here,” pointing to his leg.

“But where’s your other leg?”
“What other leg?”

After some time and particularly ridiculous questions, even the kids and definitely the reader can sense Joe’s frustration. But then the first kid breaks the tension by joining in Joe’s pirate game, spotting a crocodile.

All the kids play happily together, and by the end, the kids no longer need to know what happened.

There are notes to the adult at the back with tips for explaining disability to your kids. This book is a fantastic start! Lots of room for discussion about how it would feel to be asked the same question all the time and what’s important in friendship.

Yes, this is a book with a message, but it’s a truly delightful story at the same time. And features a sweet kid you can’t help but like.

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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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