Billy Senses The World written and illustrated by Stephanie O’Connor takes the reader on a journey of a visually impaired beetle and his best friend, Andy. The story begins with the introduction of the two characters, Billy and Andy. The two friends want to explore the world and are ready for an adventure. Each place they visit, the author describes how it feels for both Andy and Billy. Billy may not be able to see with his eyes the places he visits, but he “sees” by using his other senses like smell, touch, and hearing. For example, when exploring the land in Kenya, Billy describes “The air felt hot and dry.” In Antarctica, “The air was rather chilly” and “He could no longer feel his nose”. When the two friends arrived in Belgium, Billy “heard the bells of Belgium”, “felt the history” and could “smell the chocolate everywhere he went”.
I love books about different types of characters such as Billy Senses the World. Although Billy is visually impaired, it doesn’t hold him back from exploring the world with Andy. I love how the author uses a variety of descriptive words to describe the places, smells, and feelings of different places. One of my questions for Stephanie is why she didn’t mention that Billy has a visual impairment at the beginning of the story. She told me that for each book she writes, she does extensive research on the subject matter and talks to those affected by mental illness or physical disability. “With Billy, when I talked to those who were either; blind themselves, have a form of blindness, or a career of the blind, they said that they’d prefer to read/be read a story where the main character is impaired, without saying they’re impaired. They didn’t want the story to be about being blind itself, but a happy story about someone with a disability just doing their own thing.”
affiliate link in post
Language and Literacy Tips
Billy Senses the World is full of language and literacy opportunities! When reading this book, discuss the body’s different senses. Practice closing your eyes and paying attention to what you hear, smell, and feel which is also practicing mindfulness. Taste something and close your eyes! Use descriptive words to describe what you are eating. Billy Senses the World has many vocabulary opportunities as well. As you are reading, stop to define key vocabulary. Ask your child which senses they would be using for that particular word or phrase. For example, “The air felt chilly”, what sense is Billy using? The book is also full of opportunities to learn about different places. After reading the book, look up the different places and explore them together. What place would you want to visit? I know I would love to go to Barbados!
To learn more about the author, Stephanie O’Connor, and her other books, check out her website Daxocorp Books. Billy Senses the World is the second book in a series of A-Z books accepting of people’s differences and disabilities.