Roland Faissett and The Wizards of Wee Town by Janice E Clark
It’s the first day of school at Wee Ville Elementary School and all the students are excited to start a new year. Along with “reading, writing and arithmetic”, the students are about to meet a very special young man with a very positive and truly amazing attitude that will change them all.
As the new school year begins, the children in Mrs. Fernandes’ class can’t wait to get started and they smile happily and chat while choosing their new desks. When the young people settle in, their teacher welcomes another student who arrives a little late for school. Mrs. Fernandes introduces her students to Roland Faissett, a boy dressed as a sorcerer, with a cap and a magic crystal ball.
Slowly he crossed the room,
Dress dragging on the floor.
He picked a seat that stood on its own
Right next to the exit door.
Roland appears to be a quiet boy, but soon the class is busy with their first assignment – drawing a picture of something they did during summer vacation – and forgets about the shy child. It’s finally lunch time and the students eagerly head to the cafeteria. There, Caitlin, another student of Mrs. Fernandes, notices that Roland is not at lunch. His teacher explains to him that he had an appointment and that he would be back the next day.
The next day, the students in Mrs. Fernandes’ class are happy to see that the shy Roland is back, still in his wizard’s outfit. The day quickly moves on to recess when the students start questioning the young wizard about his outfit. He explains that the nurses at the hospital made the costume and gave him the crystal ball so he could do magic and get better. Roland’s new friends are curious so the boy takes off his hat and shows his bald head. He explains that “I had treatments called chemotherapy because my blood is sick” and that his crystal ball allows him to see his future in good health, which helps him to get better. Roland’s new friends are happy to hear that Roland has completed his treatments and for Halloween they are all doing something very special that brings the whole class together to cheer on Roland and his recovery.
Roland Faissett and The Wizards of Wee Ville is a touching story that is perfect to share both with young people who are facing medical challenges as well as with their friends who may not understand what is going on. The story doesn’t focus on Roland’s chemo or other challenges, but rather how the other students react – and help their new friend. They see a boy dressed differently and rather than making fun of him, they ask questions because they are curious. Indeed, even the boy’s name – Roland Faissett (roll and face it) – is a pun that shows the children’s amazing resilience. The watercolor illustrations are beautiful and add a nice, sweet touch to the story.