The Paralympics

The fireworks have faded. The final ceremony has closed. The Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games are over. But a new event is about to begin: the Tokyo 2020 Summer Paralympic Games.

I will admit that I really didn’t know anything about the Paralympic Games. I’ve never watched it. I’ve never read about it. I only have a vague assumption about what it entails. So, when the picture book Lucas at the Paralympics crossed my desk I gave it a quick glance. However, the more I read, the more interested I became, and I quickly read the whole book cover to cover.

Lucas at the Paralympics features a young boy named Lucas who uses a wheelchair to get around. He loves sports SO much that he learned to use a hand-powered cycle which he rides every day. One day, Lucas meets a fellow cyclist named Eddie, who tells him about the Paralympic Games.

Author Igor Plohl based the character of Lucas on his own experiences. Plohl lost the use of his legs after a fall from a ladder. Since then, he’s used his own story to create awareness about disabilities, as well as the Paralympics. I certainly had a lot to learn about the history of this incredible event.

The Paralympics began as a small competition between World War II veterans. Over the years it has grown to include thousands of athletes with a range of disabilities from over 100 countries. It is now the largest para-sporting event in the world.

Each page of the book has a quick blurb describing how each event is organized. The illustrations help the reader understand how different athletes compete. For example, sprint competitions have both runners that wear a prosthesis, as well as runners who are blind. Blind runners have different levels of vision, so every runner wears a blindfold to make it fair. In wheelchair fencing, athletes’ chairs are connected to a frame that allows them to move while staying spaced apart. Para-archery is one of the original events in the Paralympics. At first only athletes in wheelchairs could compete but this has expanded to include athletes with cerebral palsy as well as amputees.

After I finished reading the book, I took it home to show my five-year-old. She was quite interested in Lucas and how he pedals a special bicycle with his hands instead of his feet. She had a lot of questions about the special equipment used in the games and it was great educator for both of us! I highly recommend Lucas at the Paralympics for children and adults.

— Lesley L.