We’ll Paint the Octopus Red is a children’s book, written about a girl whose baby brother has just been diagnosed with Down syndrome. It’ s a sweet story. Emma is not excited about being a big sister, so she and her dad talk about all the things that she can do with the new baby – visit a farm, take a trip, do art projects, etc. When the baby is born with Down syndrome, Emma wonders if she can still do all those fun things with her baby brother Isaac. As she and her dad talk about it, they realize that “as long as we were patient with Isaac, and helped him when he needed it, there probably wasn’t anything he couldn’t do.”
At the end of the book, there are questions and answers about Down syndrome. I wish I had this list when we first talked with Evan and Corrie. There’s a good explanation of chromosomes. The questions and responses are simple, and they include some reassurances that may not have occurred to me:
“Nobody knows why some babies are born with Down syndrome, but we do know that it is nobody’s fault.”
You cannot catch Down syndrome from the baby. “The only way to get Down syndrome is to be born with it.”
“Sometimes people say that babies with Down syndrome are special because they need extra time and help to learn. But they are also special in the same ways that other kids are special. All kids, with or without Down syndrome, are special because they have their own interests, talents, and personalities.”
We have only had this book for a few days, but Corrie has asked to read it several times. It resonates with me as a mom, too, because the dad in the story was a little sad until he took the time to talk with Emma about the baby’s future. This is an easy book to read, the illustrations are nice, and it has clear, easy explanations for a parent who is unsure of what to say.
I also think this would be a good book to read to a child’s classroom for Down syndrome awareness – or to donate to the school library. I’m tempted to buy a few extra copies to pass around to other families with older (preschool and elementary-aged) children.