5th Grade and Up
Twelve-year-old Emmie is working to raise money for a tricked-out wheelchair to get serious about WCMX when a mishap on a poorly designed ramp at school throws her plans into a tailspin. Instead of replacing the ramp, her school provides her with a kind but unwelcome aide and, seeing a golden media opportunity, launches a public fundraiser for her new wheels. Emmie loves her close-knit rural town, but she can’t shake the feeling that her goals, and her choices, suddenly aren’t hers anymore. With the help of her best friends, Emmie plans to get her dreams off the ground and show her community what she wants, what she has to give, and how ready she is to do it on her own terms.
I fell in love with Emmie’s character right from the start. She’s independent, determined, and a daredevil with a need for speed. I also like how often she thinks about rolling over peoples’ toes.
First off, WCMX stands for Wheelchair Motocross, a sport in which wheelchair athletes perform tricks adapted from skateboarding and BMX. When I started this story, my first thought was, “Is doing tricks in a wheelchair more or less dangerous than doing tricks on a skateboard or BMX bike?” I watched some WCMX tricks on YouTube videos, and from years of watching people hurt themselves on skateboards and bikes on America’s Funniest Home Videos, I have concluded that it’s about the same level of danger. For one thing, in a wheelchair, you’re less likely to get hit in the crotch.
Here are a few awesome WCMX videos I found on YouTube:
Aaron Wheelz – Sitting Around – WCMX: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eAsEvnaavY
Aaron Wheelz – 2020 WCMX Edit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ex0g_b2HPrQ&t=11s
Meet Britain’s First WCMX champion – BBC: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9entbsHV7kM
Emmie’s most significant hardship is dealing with ignorant well-meaning people who think they know better. The principal sees Emmie as a liability to the school and a charity case. So many people kept making decisions on how to help her without asking Emmie what she thought. Like her opinion doesn’t matter. They were pretty much saying, “Oh, sweetie. You are too young and disabled to know what you need.” She may not be able to climb stairs, but she is perfectly capable of getting around on her own. This is why everyone should read books like this. To teach people how to interact with people who aren’t like you. Treat people like people and don’t assume their life is some big tragedy.
I never know how to act around people in wheelchairs. I struggle with acting around people in general. I always feel like I’m doing something socially wrong. I remember one time I was walking to the gym, and I was standing at the crosswalk next to someone using a wheelchair. I couldn’t tell if they were having trouble getting down the incline and I felt awkward just standing there. I kept thinking, “What’s my social obligation here?” I asked if they needed help, and I can’t remember what happened next. They either didn’t hear me or ignored me.
If there is one thing to learn from reading this story, when it comes to socializing with someone in a wheelchair, the number one rule is DO NOT TOUCH THEIR WHEELCHAIR! Emmie’s main issue is people pushing or grabbing her wheelchair without her permission. Think of the wheelchair as an extension of the person’s body. You wouldn’t want someone touching or grabbing you, would you?
I could go on and on about this book, but I think more of this story’s messages will hit harder when read directly from the source.
Check out the Author’s Note to learn how Monica Roe’s real-life experiences as a pediatric physical therapist influenced this story.