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Children's books 'Best Buddies' and 'Unbound' shed more light on differences

Maine author Lynn Plourde and illustrator Melissa Sweet show the beauty in differences through children's books 'Best Buddies' and 'Unbound.'

PORTLAND, Maine — There has been a push to create children's books that are more inclusive, featuring children of different colors and different abilities. 

Two Mainers are behind two new releases about children with Down syndrome, Lynn Plourde's "Best Buddies" and "Unbound: The Life + Art of Judith Scott," illustrated by Melissa Sweet. 

"Unbound" is a story told by Judith's sister, Joyce Scott, as she remembers not understanding as children that her sister was different. Plourde said that that's the idea behind both books. Plourde wants to be a part of normalizing differences.

"I wanted the boy who had Down syndrome to not stick out like a sore thumb. It doesn’t say in the story that the boy has Down syndrome. You have to read the back of the book to realize, and I think Arthur Lin, the illustrator, did a nice job with the eyes, making the boys seem like he had Down syndrome."

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"We need more art like that," Plourde said. "Where it just happens to be a character has Down syndrome, it happens to be a character who is deaf, it just happens to be a character with cerebral palsy. They’re all a part of our world. Let’s fit them in."

In "Unbound," Sweet doesn't try to completely copy Scott's art but instead hopes that children are inspired to try their own artwork. 

"The most important thing for me is to get to the point in the book where Judith started making the art, and that didn’t happen right away for her," Sweet explained. "But in creating the piece with sticks and her beginning to wrap the yarn, that was a defining moment. And that was really imperative for me to show."

To learn more about "Unbound," click here

To learn more about "Best Buddies," click here

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