The Triplets introduces preschoolers to the Johnson family, consisting of parents Sue and Joe and triplets Sara, Marie and Jenn. Unlike her two siblings, Jenn was born with cerebral palsy. Young readers are invited into this loving world filled with its unique set of challenges.
The book begins with an explanation of what triplets are: three babies who grew in one mother’s uterus all at the same time. Like all triplets, the Johnson girls are special. Sara, who arrived first loves playing hockey; Marie, the smallest, loves books and ballet; and Jenn, the tallest, loves music and sweets.
Jenn looks different from her sisters and depends on a wheelchair for mobility. She needs help with many of the daily tasks her sisters manage on their own, but she is an engaging, sparkplug of a girl, with good humor and endless courage. Jenn can also be sad and act out, like all kids.
The story does an admirable job of presenting the challenges of living with physical disability as just one characteristic of this loving family. It is less successful, however, at answering the harder questions children may raise about Jenn’s future. Jenn dreams of becoming a gymnast, a fact the book acknowledges with one line: “We all can and should have dreams.” The story doesn’t address whether those dreams are actually attainable for Jenn. Yes, we should all dream big dreams, but what should we say and do when we know someone’s dream can’t come true?
Breki Bjornsson’s vibrant and colorful illustrations give the story a playful appeal. Unfortunately, the book also includes numerous punctuation errors, including missing periods and misplaced quotation marks.
The Triplets is a warm tribute to a real set of sisters living in Minnesota and may be useful to children who have siblings or friends with disabilities, or disabilities themselves. Unfortunately, it avoids answering the hard but obvious questions preschoolers may have.