All the Way to the Top: How One Girl’s Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything

Written By: Annette Bay Pimentel

Forward by: Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins

Illustrated by: Nabi H. Ali

For Ages: 5 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Historical Figure, Disabilities, Own Voices, ADA, Activism, Politics.

Summary:

For #sweetsandsocialjustice this week, I wanted to do this incredible story justice. To match our strong protagonist’s blond locks, I made salted butterscotch blondies!

Have you ever seen photos from the Capitol Crawl? The event took place in 1990 to protest the ADA not being prioritized. One of the protestors crawling up the steps was 9 year old Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins, a wheelchair user with CP. By the time the Capitol Crawl came around, Jennifer had already been arrested in Montreal for protesting the lack of accessibility she encountered while out in the world on a daily basis.

Jennifer wanted her school to be accessible and to be able to eat in the lunchroom with her classmates. Her family became involved with local disability activists and began attending rallies and campaigning for more accessible schools, public buildings, and sidewalks. The story focuses on Jennifer’s perseverance that she and other disabled kids should be given an accessible and inclusive education. Part history, part activist how-to, this book doesn’t dwell in “inspirational” storylines like so much coverage of disabled individuals that we see. Jennifer wants to change things for people who don’t have the privilege to travel to protests with her family. She recognizes that minds are the slowest of all to change, even after the ADA successfully passes. All the Way to the Top is an incredibly powerful book, and can begin a load of great conversations about how accessibility (or lack thereof) affects millions everyday. The world is designed for able-bodied people, and in the back of the book is a lot of additional information about disabilities and a timeline of events. I truly encourage you to check out this book and think about ways you can make things more accessible for others throughout your daily life.

This book was sent to us by Sourcebooks Kids, but all opinions are our own!

Recipe: Salted Butterscotch Blondies

Ingredients:

  • 2c all-purpose flour 
  • 1t baking powder
  • 1/2t salt
  • 2 sticks salted butter (when browning, it will end up being slightly under 1c)
  • 1c dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 2t vanilla extract
  • 11 oz bag butterscotch and/or chocolate chips (I have used half chocolate, half butterscotch, or entirely chocolate or butterscotch chips)
  • optional: 1c chopped nuts (I used almonds!)
  • coarse/flaky sea salt for sprinkling on top

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 13x9in pan. Put 2 sticks of butter in a pan over low heat and brown. If you’re unfamiliar with the process, the butter will foam up. When you start to smell a nutty aroma and see brown flecks on the bottom of the pan turn off the heat, wait a few seconds, and then pour into a glass measuring cup or bowl to cool slightly while measuring out rest of ingredients. Whisk together dries and set aside. Measure out sugar into large mixing bowl and add brown butter, whisking together. Add eggs and vanilla next before adding dries. Fold in chips and nuts. Bake about a half hour, when cooled lift out of pan and cut.

Annette Bay Pimentel

Annette Bay Pimentel has published two picture book biographies: Mountain Chef (Charlesbridge, 2016) about a Chinese American who helped inspire the creation of the National Park Service which won the Carter G. Woodson Award, and Girl, Running (Nancy Paulson, 2018) about the first female to run the Boston Marathon, which was a JLG pick and received a starred review. Annette lives in Moscow, Idaho.

Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins joined the disability rights movement at the age of six and has been a passionate advocate ever since. In 1990, she received the Americans With Disabilities Act Award. Jennifer received her GED in 2002 before earning a B.S. in Family and Human Development from Arizona State University, which she plans to use to help children with disability rights advocacy. She lives in Colorado with her mother, Cynthia Keelan, and her service dog Mya.

Visit Jennifer’s website at jkclegacy.com.

Nabi H. Ali

Nabi H. Ali is an illustrator of Tamil descent based in Orange County, California. He enjoys creating works that foster inclusivity and intersectionality in art and media. His hobbies include painting, researching South Asian culture, and writing poetry.

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